Sport in the 21st century is a hugely lucrative industry, generating billions of dollars of revenue on an annual basis.
Working out which are the richest sports in the world is not an easy task, with opinions differing amongst experts on how this should be measured.
For instance, the world’s highest-paid athlete at the moment is Roger Federer, but he is the only tennis player to make it into the Forbes top 10.
It is equally difficult to get a handle on this question from the list of most valuable sports teams, with the current top 10 featuring a fairly equal spread from American Football, soccer and basketball.
However, in order to provide an answer to the debate, we’ve come up with four sports that we believe are the richest in the world.
The financial strength of the NFL certainly gives American Football a strong case to be included as one of the richest sports around.
According to the most recent list published by Forbes, just over half of the top 50 most valuable sports teams play in the NFL.
The competition also currently has the most lucrative broadcasting deal, raking in around $4.5 billion per year from four US networks.
However, the sport’s failure to develop any other competitions of note elsewhere means that the wealth is concentrated within a fairly small pool.
Just eight soccer clubs make it into the top 50 rich list, although three of them feature in the top six – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United.
The sport’s worldwide appeal has allowed many of its top stars to amass huge fortunes, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi amongst the highest paid athletes in the world.
Competitions like the Champions League, Premier League, La Liga and Series A generate huge broadcast and sponsorship revenues, while many other major leagues are also awash with cash.
Revenues generated by companies such as 888 online betting in sectors associated with soccer all help to make it one of the richest sports in the world.
Two Major League Baseball franchises feature in the top 10 rich list, while many of its players are amongst the highest earners in the world.
Average annual player earnings in MLB are actually higher than all of the main soccer leagues, although the figures are perhaps skewed by the number of games played each season.
Growing popularity of baseball in Latin America and various Caribbean nations has been powering financial growth over the past few years and the trend looks set to continue in the future.
With baseball returning to the Olympics for the next Games, the sport’s revenues could enjoy a major spike over the next few years.
Another sport that undoubtedly relies heavily on its popularity in North America for its status as one of the richest is basketball.
Nine NBA franchises feature in the top 50 rich list, with three of those appearing in the top 10 – New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors.
Top stars such as LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are amongst the highest earners in the world, with the majority of their income coming from global endorsements.
The NBA’s bumper broadcast deal is on a par with the Premier League in soccer, highlighting how important it is to basketball’s status as a rich sport.
Richest Sports – The Final Word
Tennis, boxing, cricket, golf and ice hockey all deserve honourable mentions with regards to their respective wealth, but probably lag behind the four we have named in terms of being the richest in the world.