Nielsen Study: Legalized Betting Will Add More Than $4B in Annual Revenue for Four Major U.S. Leagues

According to a new study, annual revenues MLB and the NBA may increase by $1.1 billion and $585 million, respectively, due to widely available, legal, regulated sports betting. The Nielsen Sports study, which was commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA), comes the heels of similar Nielsen studies projecting revenue increases of $2.3 billion a year for the NFL and $216 million for the NHL. In total, the four main U.S. sports leagues stand to increase their annual revenues by $4.23 billion, according to the studies.

The respective studies analyze the revenue streams that legal sports betting could generate for the four professional leagues: revenue as a result of spending from betting operators on advertising, data and sponsorship, and revenue generated as a result of increased consumption of the leagues’ media and products.

MLB and NBA: Betting To Add $1.1 Billion and $585 Million to Respective Coffers 
According to Nielsen Sports, greater fan engagement and viewership could boost the two leagues’ total annual revenue from media rights, sponsorships, merchandise and ticket sales, producing $952 million for MLB and $425 million for the NBA from increased consumption of the leagues’ products.

“The four major sports leagues will earn a collective $4.2 billion from widely available legal sports betting, further proving that working together with the gaming industry will pay dividends for all sports stakeholders,” said Sara Slane, SVP of public affairs for the American Gaming Association. “Legal sports betting will also create substantial opportunities for state and local economies, generating tax revenue, jobs and supporting small businesses across the country.”

The research shows that legal sports betting could help generate additional revenues of $160 million for the NBA and $154 million for MLB as a result of spending by betting operators and data providers. The study projects that gaming operators may spend $64 million on MLB advertising and $57 million on the NBA – which may directly increase the leagues’ rights fees by the same amount. Sponsorship revenues from gaming operators would provide an additional $78 million for the NBA and $62 million for MLB. The NBA and MLB are also projected to earn $25 million and $28 million from data rights, respectively.

NFL Stands to Benefit the Most With $2.3 billion a Year Increase
According to Nielsen Sports, greater fan engagement and viewership could boost the NFL’s total annual revenue from media rights, sponsorships, merchandise and ticket sales by 13.4 percent, producing $1.75 billion in new revenue from increased consumption of the league’s products.

Legal sports betting could help the NFL generate an additional $573 million in revenue as a result of spending by betting operators and data providers. The study projects that gaming operators may spend $451 million on advertising, which will directly increase the league’s rights fees by the same amount. An additional $92 million in sponsorship revenue and $30 million in data is also projected for the league and its teams.

“Legal, regulated sports betting will create huge new revenue opportunities for sports leagues – and the NFL could be the biggest winner of all,” said Slane. “Once legal sports betting expands across the country, the NFL could take in more than $2 billion a year, reinforcing how much sports leagues stand to gain from increased viewership and private partnerships with sports betting operators.

NHL: $216 Million in New Revenue on the Way
According to Nielsen Sports, greater fan engagement and viewership could boost the NHL’s total annual revenue from media rights, sponsorships, merchandise and ticket sales by 3.5 percent, producing $151 million in new revenue from increased consumption of the league’s products.

Legal sports betting could help the NHL generate an additional $65 million in revenue as a result of spending by betting operators and data providers. The study projects that gaming operators may spend $24 million on advertising, which will directly increase the league’s rights fees by the same amount. An additional $35 million in sponsorship revenue and $6 million in data is also projected for the league and its teams.

“[This] announcement reaffirms that legal, regulated sports betting will create significant new revenue opportunities for sports leagues,” said Slane. “Much like the NHL’s recent successful expansion into Las Vegas, legal sports betting will continue to expand across the country, bringing with it a $216 million opportunity for the league.”

To quantify the value of a legal sports betting market to the NHL, Nielsen Sports surveyed more than 1,000 adult sports fans – including NHL fans – and self-identified sports bettors nationwide to model how a national, legal sports betting market would affect the sports consumption habits of non-bettors, casual bettors and avid bettors, and how this change in consumption would translate to increased revenue.

Inside the Research
To quantify the value of a legal sports betting market to the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL, Nielsen Sports surveyed more than 1,000 adult sports fans and self-identified sports bettors nationwide to model how a national, legal sports betting market would affect the sports consumption habits of non-bettors, casual bettors and avid bettors, and how this change in consumption would translate to increased revenue.

On behalf of the American Gaming Association, Nielsen Sports conducted a custom survey of 1,032 U.S. 18+ adults, representative of census age, gender, geography and ethnicity, from May 15 through May 31, 2018. Nielsen is an independent measurement organization. Nielsen does not guarantee any results or performance, or endorse, rank, approve or recommend any products or services. All names and marks are the property of their respective owners and no sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement in expressed or implied.