The Forbes Fab 40 consists of the 10 most valuable sports brands in each of four categories--businesses, events, teams and athletes.
How do you place a value on a brand? This is SportsMoney. So we don't use polls or complex formulas that exist in some black box. We use the most important financial data specific to each category.
For sports business brands, this means quantifying the amount the business would fetch in an arms length transaction in excess of what a comparable rival would be worth. When News Corp. bought a stake in the YES Network last November the deal placed an enterprise value of $3.8 billion, or 15.2 times operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) on the regional sports network. Your average company would have been valued at 10 times operating income, or $2.5 billion.
But we cannot ascribe the entire $1.3 billion to the YES brand because Rupert Murdoch wasn't looking to buy a grocery store chain or an oil company. He wanted pipes and top-shelf sports programming. So in order to estimate the value of the YES brand we need to extract the amount the average RSN would have sold for.
YES is a well-known name synonymous with the most famous sports team in the U.S., and is also the most watched and most profitable RSN in the land (full disclosure: I am part of the Forbes SportsMoney television show on YES). As a result, YES commands a monthly of $3.20 per subscriber from carriers, 28% more than the typical RSN. In addition, YES makes more money from advertising--both in total dollars and as a percentage of its overall revenue--than any other RSN. YES' unique economics are worth a a 50% enterprise ratio premium over comparable RSNs, making the YES brand worth $625 million ($1.3 billion times .5). Perfect? Of course not. Realistic? I think so.
For athlete brands, my colleague, Kurt Badenhausen--the dean of all things related to how much money sports figures earn on and off the field--mined his database for the athletes whose endorsement income exceeded the amount their peers earned by the largest amount during the past year.
Tiger Woods and Roger Federer tied for the number one spot in this category with brand values of $46 million, meaning their take from sponsors is $46 million greater than the average of the top 10 golfers and tennis players, respectively. Kobe Bryant's endorsement income ($34 million) exceeded Usain Bolt's take ($24 million) by $10 million. But Bolt's brand is worth more ($20 million) than Bryant's ($19 million) because the top-paid NBA players earn more from sponsorships than track stars, so Bryant had $15 million subtracted from his total endorsement income to derive his brand value while Bolt had just $4 million taken from his income.
Sporting events are valued on the amount of revenue they generate per-event-day from media, tickets, sponsorships and licensing. The Summer Olympics (17 event days) and Champions League soccer tournament (13 event days beginning with the Group Stage) generate much more revenue that the Super Bowl. But the NFL's title game last season between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers--which produced $464 million in revenue--is just one day, which is why it takes the top spot among sports events.
Team brand values are calculated by applying the same multiple we use to value the entire team to those revenues not associated with the size or demographics if its market, or its portion of league-share revenue. For example, the $98 million that each of the NFL's 32 teams received from broadcasters ABC/ESPN, NBC, Fox and CBS last season was excluded when calculating the Dallas Cowboys brand value of $273 million. The Boston Red Sox brand value of $237 million omits the $25 million that each of the 20 MLB teams took in from broadcasters Fox, TBS and ESPN in 2012.
Real Madrid, which is the number one team brand this year at $450 million, doesn't have to worry about sharing its television money with the other La Liga teams. In Spain its every team for themselves when it comes to negotiating media rights, and Real Madrid and Barcelona, two of Europe's soccer powerhouses, combine to rake in almost half of the league's total broadcasting revenue, some $182 million each last season. Alas, that advantage may soon come to an end.
More on Forbes:
In Pictures: NFL Team Values 2013
In Pictures: The World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes Of 2013