Can The MLS Fully Cash In Without Diversity?

By Justice Allen

  • MLS broadcast deals bring in $90M in revenue, but the NBA’s broadcast deals bring in $2.6B
  • The average MLS club valuation has grown by 30% over the last year

The growth of Major League Soccer is a rags-to-riches story if you’ve ever heard one. Back in 2005 an ownership group only paid $7.5 million to start up a new franchise, but fast forward to today and the league’s highest valued team is sitting pretty at $330 million. It also ranked second behind American football as the most popular sport for young Americans and averages a little over 3,000 more heads per game than the NBA. There’s just one problem, they aren’t making any bread. Could the presence of more Black players influence team profitability and broadcast deals?

Why This Matters: What the MLS is missing that the NBA & NFL aren’t, is diversity of course. The NFL and the NBA are made up of 70% Black players, while the MLS is only comprised of 11% Black players. Now look, I’m not saying that more Black athletes will automatically mean more profitability for the MLS, but the numbers can’t be ignored. Recruiting more Black people to the sport could mean huge profits for the MLS.

The NFL and the NBA is made up of 70% Black players, while the MLS only is only comprised of 11% Black players

Although the MLS has been growing over the past decade, they’ve failed to lock in lucrative deals. The average MLS club valuation has grown by 30% over the last year, compared to just 13% for the NBA & 11% for the NFL. Specifically, the NBA gets $2.6 billion in annual revenue from its broadcast deal, whereas the MLS gets about $90 million. It looks like the MLS is outpacing the NBA and NFL in club valuation growth, their fanbase is hella engaged, and they fill seats.

What’s Next: Let’s keep in mind that from a global perspective, soccer is the number one sport in the world, it’s also been accused of racism for players of color. As the MLS continues to grow in the U.S., we could see an influx of international Black players trying their hand on an MLS team.

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Justice Allen

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