Major League Baseball tops list of sports licensors with $5.5bn in sales

Major League Baseball is once again the highest-ranking sports rights-holder on a list of the world’s biggest licensors, having registered a reported $5.5bn in retail sales in 2018.

The league ranked tenth overall in License Global’s annual list of the top 150 global licensors, a table that includes organisations across a range of different industries. Entertainment giant Walt Disney Company topped the table with $54.7bn in retail sales.

MLB has proved adept at licensing its logo and different team names across various apparel, confectionery and collectible categories. Most famously, the organisation derived huge revenues from the boom in baseball trading cards in the late 1980’s.

The National Football League (NFL) also featured strongly on the list, with a reported $3.3bn in retail sales, although this was slightly down on last year’s $3.5bn. IMG Licensing are the NFL’s exclusive licensing representative across select international markets in Europe and Asia.

The NFL Players’ Association, which offers the group licensing rights to more than 2,000 active NFL players, was the sixth ranked sports rights-holder on the list, registering $1.65bn in sales, the same as last year.

The US Polo Association (USPA) continued to perform well, with a licensing programme that delivered $1.7bn in sales, an increase of $100m on last year. The national federation has a network of 1,100 own-brand retail stores globally, offering branded apparel, footwear, travel accessories and home goods.

The top ten sports rights-holders on the list were as follows:

10*  Major League Baseball – $5.5bn
16  National Football League – $3.3bn
17  National Basketball Association – $3.2bn
25  Ferrari – $2.6bn
36  US Polo Assn/USPA Global Licensing – $1.7bn
37  NFL Players’ Association – $1.65bn
42  National Hockey League – $1.3bn
49  Nascar – $1bn
52  WWE – $1bn
54  PGA Tour – $855m

*Ranking in License Global top 150

To view the full list, click here.

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