The COVID pandemic put the clamps on a lot of people and businesses financially since the spring of 2020. Sports leagues were not immune. Between the 2019-20 season and the 2020-21 season, the NHL lost out on $2B of Hockey-related revenue, according to the latest Forbes valuation of the league. But what is surprising is the bounce-back the the league has seen, even amidst the ongoing pandemic.
According to Forbes, the average value of an NHL franchise fell 2% last season, but heading into the 2021-22 season, the league saw the average value of a franchise rise 32%. Here’s more from the recent report:
In our new set of valuations, the average is up to $865 million, an increase of 32% from last year and the biggest jump since the 50% gain of 2013, when the league signed its massive Canadian television deal. At the top of the ranking, the New York Rangers have climbed 21% since last year, becoming the first NHL team worth $2 billion while claiming the No. 1 spot for the seventh year in a row.
There are a number of reasons why the league is experiencing this kind of revenue jump, even after losing so many games from the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons and not having ticket revenue for the 2020 Playoffs and much of the 2020-21 season and postseason. More from the Forbes report:
Bankers tell Forbes that there are a few reasons for the multiple increase. One is the league’s seven-year U.S. media deals with ESPN and Turner that began this season and will pay the NHL an average of $625 million a year, versus the average of $300 million the league was getting from NBC for its TV rights and ESPN for streaming only. Another reason for the rise in multiples: new arenas that throw off lots of cash from fancy seating, advertising and concessions.
Unsurprisingly the new U.S. TV deal with ESPN and Turner Sports has played a huge role. Also playing a role in helping teams individually add revenue over the past two seasons has been the implementation of ads on team helmets. The Blackhawks, for example, have had United Airlines and Belle Tire as helmet sponsors over the past two seasons. In the near future, we will see the NHL adding ad space on sweaters as well, allowing another revenue stream for teams and the league. As for the future of Hockey-related revenue, here’s what Forbes has to say about future projections:
League insiders say that the NHL’s hockey-related revenue should increase from a projected $4.8 billion this season to $5.4 billion in 2022-23. By 2025-26, the NHL thinks that revenue will hit $6 billion, 22% more than in the 2019-20 season.
For team valuations, as mentioned before, the New York Rangers lead the NHL as the most-valuable franchise and become the first NHL team worth $2B. They are followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, valued at $1.8B, and the Montreal Canadiens, valued at $1.6B.
The Chicago Blackhawks are the fourth-most valuable franchise in the NHL, according to Forbes, coming in with a value of $1.4B. That is a 29% increase from last year’s valuation and a five-year increase of 51%. Other notables from the Forbes report include:
• Eight NHL teams are valued at $1B or higher.
• The Pittsburgh Penguins, just sold to Fenway Sports Group, are the 12th-most valuable in the league.
• Newest NHL club, the Seattle Kraken, are 13th in the league at $875M.
• The Arizona Coyotes come in last with just a $400M valuation, still up 40% from last year, though.
I highly recommend reading the full Forbes report to get a broader sense of where they see the NHL heading over the next few years in regards to team valuation and potential earnings for the league. The more the league makes, the higher the salary cap and the more flexibility teams like the Blackhawks can have when trying to lock-up their future assets.