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MLS Not Exactly Flying High on Television Revenue

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The NHL's recent bellwether announcement of a 12-year, 5.2-billion-dollar television and internet deal with Rogers earlier this week got me to wondering...

MLS television revenues are much more down to earth compared to other major North American sports leagues
MLS television revenues are much more down to earth compared to other major North American sports leagues
David Cannon

Just how well does Major League Soccer stack up in the world of sports coverage contracts in North America? Not well, was my guess heading in. It turns out that my assumption had been spectacularly optimistic.

I'll spare you the anticipation and get to it right away. In total, MLS collects a paltry 38 million dollars annually from its various television deals across North America, and a variety of Spanish-speaking markets. That's about enough money to buy a used 737 for your summer getaway.

The NHL's new deal with Rogers, on an annualized basis, is over 10 times more lucrative - coming in at 417 million dollars each year. But that's just Rogers. In total, the NHL is estimated to bring in somewhere in the neighbourhood of 600 million dollars a year in television revenue. With that kind of cash, you could trade in your rickety 737 for three brand new Boeing Dreamliners.

Now to the boys of summer. According to my research, Major League Baseball is the next to weigh in, boasting roughly 800 million dollars a year from their television contracts - that's just a shade over 21 times more than MLS collects from its deals. If you've got a family of four, that's enough dough for a Dreamliner for each of you.

As hard as it may be to believe, NASCAR makes a pit stop next, having secured two huge deals earlier this year. With two major contracts totaling 820 million a year in TV revenue, them good ol' boys hold enough in their hands to see those four Dreamliners, and raise you a Bombardier Challenger CRJ-600 series business jet.

Basketball fans will be pleased to note that the NBA rakes in some 930 million dollars annually from their TV contracts. Hmm... let's see,... that'll get you - and 70 more of your office mates - a Lear jet each, with enough left over for all the booze you can stock the jets with.

The king, of course, when it comes to TV deals here in North America is the National Football League. Their TV revenue is an absolutely astounding 4.95 billion dollars per year - or five times that of their nearest competitor, the NBA. Just in case you're wondering about that 4.95 bn figure, that's more than enough to buy all of Canada's estimated 150 CF-18 Hornets, the bulk of our combat air force.

Having read this far, and if you're still a soccer fan, MLS garners 1/130th of what the NFL accumulates each year in television revenue. It's a growing league, one that has held steadfast to the slow and steady regime, but man does MLS have a long, long road ahead before it can be said to be flying high.

Sources:

MLS info

NHL Deal with Rogers

More on NHL TV Revenues

MLB info

NASCAR info

NBA info

NFL info