Yankees, Tiger among top sports brands

If you’re the sort of person who thinks surveys and polls can tell you something meaningful about what a brand is worth then do yourself a favor and exit this post right now.

The Forbes Fab 40 is for people interested in quantifying brand value using numbers and math. Using our proprietary data base and methodology, the Fab 40 values the top 10 names in sports in four distinct categories: athletes, businesses, events and teams.

Let’s cut to the chase.

Click here for more brands
In Pictures: The world’s most valuable team and athlete brands

Among the top 10 teams this year, the New York Yankees surpassed Manchester United as the most valuable brand. We estimate that New York Yankees name is worth $340 million by applying a multiple of four (the same number we use to value the entire team) to the portion ($85 million) of the team’s overall revenue ($427 million) not attributable to demographics or league-shared revenue, like national television revenue. Since 2007 the value of the New York Yankees brand has increased 57 percent (full disclosure: I am co-host of Forbes SportsMoney, which airs on the YES Network, one-third owned by the Yankees).

To be fair, Manchester United’s brand value was hurt by the increase in value of the U.S. dollar relative to the British pound from the time of our first survey through last season (all of our brand values and the financial data are in U.S. dollars). Had the exchange rate held fast since 2007 the Red Devils, who are looking to capitalize on their global fan base with an IPO, would still be the most valuable team brand.

Another shift among team brands this year is the addition of the New England Patriots, with a brand value of $146 million. The Patriots have the highest local media revenue in the AFC and generate a pile of cash from non-NFL events at Gillette Stadium. The three-time Super Bowl champions replaced the New York Mets, who fell off our list as their brand value fell to $144 million from $159 million last February. The money-losing baseball team has been besieged with falling attendance and a lot of debt.

Tiger Woods at the 2011 PGA Championship near Atlanta.
(Getty Images)

The most valuable sporting event brand continues to be the Super Bowl. Event brand values are revenue-per-day averages of the contest or tournament. Super Bowl XLV generated $425 million in revenue from media advertising ($210 million), licensing ($140 million), tickets ($60 million) and its halftime show ($15 million). The Super Bowl, played for the Lombardi Trophy, has been the most valuable event brand all three times we have compiled the Forbes Fab 40.

But the Olympics are gaining ground thanks to the competition for their broadcasting and digital rights. The value of the Olympic Winter Games increased to $123 million from $93 million last year due to a 54 percent increase in media revenue from the 2006 Turin games to the 2010 games in Vancouver (our $230 million value for the Summer Olympics is that same as 2010 because Beijing was in 2008 and London hosts the competition in 2012).

A rich roster of endorsement deals explains why Tiger Woods in still the most valuable athlete brand in the world despite recently falling out of the top 50 world ranking in golf for the first time in 15 years. Athlete brand values are the amount by which their endorsement income exceeds the average of the top peers in their sport. Although Tiger’s brand value fell to $55 million from $82 million last year, his brand is still $29 million more valuable than the number two athlete, Roger Federer. In June, Tiger added his first sponsor (Kowa Company) since the scandal broke that ultimately led to his divorce.

Moving up the ranks fast among the athlete brands is LeBron James, whose brand value rose to $20 million this year from $13 million in 2010. Nike is his biggest deal, worth more than $10 million annually including royalties. James also struck a marketing deal with Fenway Sports Group owner and billionaire John Henry that gave the Miami Heat star a tiny stake in Liverpool, the iconic English soccer club.

The top athlete brands:

1. Tiger Woods - $55 million
2. Roger Federer - $26 million
3. Phil Mickelson - $24 million
4. David Beckham - $20 million
5. LeBron James - $20 million

The top five team brands:

1. New York Yankees - $340 million
2. Manchester United - $269 million
3. Real Madrid - $264 million
4. Dallas Cowboys - $193 million
5. Bayern Munich - $179 million
See the full list of top sports brands

Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
Fantasy Football video: Sit stars with injury ties
Video: See Oregon’s latest crazy football uniforms
Vandy football coach recruits in copter

Updated Monday, Oct 3, 2011