All 30 NBA franchises are worth $1 billion or more for the first time in league history, according to an article posted today on Forbes.com. Between 2017 and 2018 the average one-year gain in franchise value across the league was 22%. The Portland Trail Blazers posted a 24% gain, slightly exceeding average. They are now valued at $1.3 billion.
Increasing international profile, incorporation of advertisements on jerseys, and the league’s new television deal are cited as reasons for explosive growth in valuation. Gains in China are cited specifically:
Take China, where basketball is played by an estimated 300 million people. The NBA signed a five-year deal in 2015 for Tencent to carry games and other NBA content on its digital platforms. The deal has been a slam dunk and is expected to net the NBA more than $800 million. Negotiations for an extension are already underway. The league has 34 media and marketing partners in China, as well as 144 million followers on social media in China, more than any other sport.
The NBA launched NBA China 10 years ago, and it is currently worth more than $4 billion, according to Mark Tatum, NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer. “We’re seeing growth in all lines of business whether it’s content distribution, sponsorships or merchandise,” says Tatum. “The NBA and the consumption of our product continues to grow, which is really driving the valuation of NBA China.”
The Philadelphia 76ers posted the league’s biggest single-year percentage gain at 48%. They’re now worth almost $1.2 billion. The Chicago Bulls gained a league-worst 4%, but they’re valued at $2.6 billion. The New Orleans Pelicans are the lowest-valued team in the league, sitting at $1 billion. The New York Knicks rest atop the heap at $3.6 billion, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers at $3.3 billion and the Golden State Warriors at $3.1 billion.
According to author Jurt Badenhausen, the Cleveland Cavaliers were the only team in the NBA to post an operating deficit last season, losing $6.2 million. The Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks also technically lost money due to single-year expenses. The Blazers posted an operating income of $25 million.
Full List of NBA Valuation Rankings according to Forbes.