Puma Debuts On 2019 List Of The World’s Most Valuable Sports Brands

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Brands, like the athletes and entertainers who endorse them, can have great comebacks—or quickly go out of favor. The brand value of a sports team is impacted by the performance of its management and players. Sporting events can be nurtured or neglected. The results show up in our brand values.

Prime example: Six years ago, Puma’s profits were shrinking while rivals Nike and Adidas were posting strong gains. Puma engineered an incredible turnaround with the help of partnerships with singer Rihanna and sprinter Usain Bolt. Shares of Puma are up 74% over the past year, compared with 46% for Adidas and 25% for Nike. Respect? Puma’s price-to-earnings ratio of 46 almost makes Nike (35) and Adidas (30) look cheap.

This year, Puma makes the Forbes Fab 40 for the first time, ranking sixth in the business category with brand value—what the name alone is worth—of $4 billion.

The flipside? Look at Under Armour, whose brand is worth $3.5 billion, 36% less than three years ago. Under Armour has been losing market share to brands like Puma and New Balance, and CNBC reported there’s mounting concern that consumers recognize Under Armour as only a “gym-wear brand” that sells sweat-proof shirts and shorts. The stock has fallen to $18 from $24 since late July.

The Forbes Fab 40 determines the value of the top brands in sports by quantifying the amount the name contributes to the value of the athlete, event, business or team. There’s nothing secretive about our methodology. No black box. Anyone can do the same exercise if they have the data to plug into the formulas.

Here’s how we do it.

Business brand values are the difference between a brand’s enterprise value and the average enterprise value of comparable businesses. Event brand values are the average per-day revenue from media, sponsorships, tickets and licensed merchandise. Athletes’ brand values are their earnings (excluding salary and bonuses from their sport and all investment income) minus the average income of the top ten athletes in the same sport. Team brand values measure the portion of the team’s enterprise value not attributable to the size or demographics of the team’s market, the venue or league-shared revenue.

Aside from Puma, the other new members of this year’s Fab 40 are Gatorade (added because we decided its 77% command of the sports drink market qualified it as a sports brand), the Kentucky Derby (last on the Fab 40 in 2013), Conor McGregor and the Los Angeles Dodgers (a member of the 2016 Fab 40).

The drop-offs: MLBAM (sold BamTech to Walt Disney), NESN (usurped in value by Gatorade and Puma), Usain Bolt (retired) and Manchester United (nudged out by the New England Patriots and FC Barcelona).

My Forbes teammates Kurt Badenhausen, Chris Smith and Christina Settimi provided valuable assistance with the brand values. Our nine previous renditions of the Forbes Fab 40 can be found here. If you want to know which sports brands are the leaders beyond the Fab 40, as well as the other valuable brands they have connections with, visit our SportsMoney Index.


Business Brands

(Values in millions)

1. Nike, $36,800

Over the past two years, shares of Nike have outperformed Adidas by more than two-to-one and Under Armour by more than four-to-one.

2. ESPN, $13,100

ESPN generates more than $3 billion in operating income thanks to monthly affiliate fees of $8, the highest of any sports network.

3. Adidas, $11,200

In April, Beyoncé and Adidas announced a partnership for the performer to develop signature apparel and footwear for the brand.

4. Gatorade, $6,700

Gatorade commands 77% of the sports drink market in the U.S., dwarfing rival Powerade’s 15% share.

5. Sky Sports, $4,400

Sky Sports’ Premier League audience grew by 12% in the United Kingdom in 2018-19.

6. Puma, $4,000

During the first nine months of 2019, Puma’s share price rose 60%, to $79.

7. Under Armour, $3,500

Over the last two years, Under Armour’s operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) has decreased 72%, to $157 million.

8. UFC, $2,400

UFC and Disney inked a seven-year streaming deal earlier this year that pays UFC upfront fees for its pay-per-view bouts on ESPN+.

9. YES, $1,500

In September, a group led by the New York Yankees bought the YES Network from Disney for $3.47 billion.

10. Reebok, $800

Currency-neutral Reebok brand sales were down 3% in 2018, but the brand still returned to profitability.

*Difference between brand’s enterprise value and the average enterprise value of comparable businesses


Event Brands

(Values in millions)

1. Super Bowl, $780

Kantar Media estimates CBS generated $382 million in advertising revenue from Super Bowl 53, down from the $408 million NBC pulled in for the title game the year before.

2. Summer Olympic Games, $375

NBC rang up $1.2 billion in national ad sales for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, slightly less than the amount the network pulled for the prior Summer Games in London.

3. NCAA Men’s Final Four, $300

Television ad spending for March Madness was between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion, according to Kantar Media.

4. FIFA World Cup, $282

Some 2.49 million people watched at least 30 minutes of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, a 27.7% increase from the previous World Cup in Brazil.

5. College Football Playoffs, $255

In 2014, ESPN began paying an average annual rights fee of $470 million for the College Football Playoffs on a deal that runs through 2025.

6. WrestleMania, $245

WrestleMania 35 at MetLife Stadium this year grossed $16.9 million, second in the event’s history to the $17.3 million grossed at WrestleMania 32.

7. UEFA Champions League, $168

Media rights and sponsorship revenues for the Champions League and the Europa League are expected to average a combined $3.52 billion per season from 2018 to 2021.

8. Kentucky Derby, $155

Churchill Downs completed a $37 million renovation in 2018 that added more than 1,800 seats in 32 new suites and a third-floor grandstand.

9. Winter Olympic Games, $150

PyeongChang 2018 was the biggest Winter Games ever on social media; official content was consumed by 300 million users and resulted in more than 1.6 billion video views.

10. MLB World Series, $122

The average cost of a 30-second television ad during the 2018 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers was around $500,000, nearly the same as for the prior year’s Fall Classic.

*Average, per-day revenue from media, sponsorships, tickets and licensed merchandise


Athlete Brands

(Values in millions)

1. Roger Federer, $62

Federer’s $86 million in off-court earnings from partners like Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz and Rolex is nearly 60% more than any other athlete’s total.

2. Tiger Woods, $33

Woods has earned $1.4 billion from sponsors since he turned pro in 1996.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo, $29

Within 24 hours of its release, Ronaldo’s Juventus jersey sold 520,000 units, worth over $60 million.

4. LeBron James, $28

In 2018, James teamed up with Cindy Crawford, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lindsey Vonn to launch Ladder, a health and wellness company.

5. Lionel Messi, $20

Messi has a lifetime deal with Adidas that reportedly pays him more than $12 million per year.

6. Stephen Curry, $17

In 2017, Curry formed a new company, SC30, to manage his investments, brand partnerships and philanthropic ventures.

7 (t). Neymar, $15

Neymar is the second-most-popular athlete on social media, with more than 200 million followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

7 (t). Phil Mickelson, $15

Mickelson’s sponsorship deals have earned him some $700 million over the course of his career.

9. Virat Kohli, $14

In 2018, Kohli won the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy, awarded to the best cricketer of the year, as well as ODI and Test player of the year honors.

10. Conor McGregor, $12

Before his return fight at UFC 229, McGregor renewed his sponsorship deal with Reebok, which pays the Irishman some $5 million per year.

*Difference between athlete’s endorsement income and the average endorsement income of the top ten athletes in the same sport


Team Brands

(Values in millions)

1. Dallas Cowboys, $1,039

The Cowboys make more money from sponsors and premium seating (suites and club seats) than any other NFL team.

2. New York Yankees, $815

The Yankees generate $100 million more in revenue than any other MLB team.

3. Real Madrid, $725

Earlier this year, Real Madrid signed an eight-year kit deal extension with Adidas that runs through June 2028 and is worth a record $113 million per year, plus 20% of team merchandise sales.

4. Los Angeles Lakers, $674

The Lakers pull in $150 million a year from their local TV and radio deals.

5. Golden State Warriors, $606

The Warriors’ $20 million-per-year jersey patch deal with Rakuten leads all NBA teams.

6. New York Knicks, $563

During the 2017-18 season, the Knicks raked in almost $60 million in club seat revenue, the most in the NBA.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers, $554

The Dodgers earned $170 million in local television rights fees in 2018, the most in MLB.

8. Boston Red Sox, $532

More people attended concerts at Fenway Park in 2018 than at any other baseball stadium.

9. Chicago Cubs, $518

In 2020, the Cubs and Sinclair Broadcast Group will launch Marquee Sports Network, which will be the exclusive network for watching Cubs games.

10 (t). New England Patriots, $465

In February, the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, in the Super Bowl to win their sixth title in ten trips to the championship game. 

10 (t). Barcelona, $465

In 2018, FC Barcelona inked a training shirt sponsorship deal with Turkish electronics company Beko that is worth a total of $63 million over three years.

*Portion of team’s enterprise value not attributable to the size or demographics of its market, the venue or league-shared revenue

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