Football is commonly referred to as the biggest
sport in the world.
But is it really as big as we think?
This is the revenue of the major football
This is the revenue of Disney.
And this is Apple.
Welcome to Athletic Interest.
In this video we will put the size of football
The NFL, one of the most popular sports on
the planet, has around 400 million fans.
Tennis has an impressive 1 billion fans.
Football, or “soccer”, as some of you
like to call it in the comments…
Football has a mind boggling three and a half
17 of the top 20 most popular athletes on
social media are footballers, with Ronaldo
being the single most?
followed person on instagram.
Even retired footballers like David Beckham,
Ronaldinho and Gareth Bale (a joke) can boast
a greater number of followers than the likes
of Lewis Hamilton, Steph Curry and Connor
277 million, nope that is not the amount of
debt Barcelona have accumulated in the last
week, but rather their current follower count.
They are the most followed team of any sport
on social media, and lead a total of 17 football
clubs that make up the 20 most followed sports
With billions of fans, football can clearly
consider itself the largest sport on the planet…
this has been Athletic Interest, thank you
Wait a second!
We are nowhere near discovering the true size
Football is not only a sport, it is also a
worldwide entertainment product.
To get a more complete understanding of the
‘size’ of football, we have to see how
it compares to rivals in the entertainment
The industry for live music is stronger than
In 2019 the top 100 tours sold almost 60 million
In that same period, the top 80 teams in football
sold around 50 million match tickets.
While football may be comfortable rubbing
shoulders with the music industry, how does
it compare to the true king of entertainment…
Luke Skywalker, Homer Simpson and both captains.
That’s just a taste of the numerous household
names that find themselves under the watchful
eye of Disney.
Mickey seems intent to get his white gloved
hands on everything in entertainment.
Disney attractions have welcomed over double
(150m) the amount of visitors than their nearest
Almost half a billion tickets were sold for
Disney owned movies in the US, that is nearly
40% of the entire box office in 2019.
While the top football league’s cannot compete
in terms of live attendance Mickey might be
a little jealous of the global reach of football.
The Premier League claims to have streamed
live football into 1 billion homes in 2019,
with over 3 billion people watching league
You may have noticed that we have barely compared
football with its rivals based on another
quite important metric…revenue!
While the media often paint football as a
corrupt oasis of money, they have failed to
notice that football doesn’t make anywhere
near as much as you might expect.
If all major leagues and federations were
to merge into one company their revenue would
place them on rank 212 in the world leaderboard,
just between these two companies.
Just to remind you that is from over 3.5 billion
If you still think that 33 billion euros is
an impressive return let’s look at a few
From 2.89 billion users Facebook generates
over 7080 billion euros a year.
Apple is said to have around 580 million active
customers worldwide and recorded 236 billion
in sales in 2020.
HSBC has just under 40 million customers and
still managed 44 billion in 2020.
While it is unfair to compare football leagues
to the money making machines that are banking
and tech, football is clearly struggling to
maximise revenues from its massive fanbase.
When Steve Jobs unveiled the Ipod in 2001
he revolutionized the digital music space
and dramatically boosted the revenues of Apple.
This is the magic of the Tech industry, there
are no boundaries to what you can invent and
companies constantly innovate to boost revenues.
Football is a little more conservative.
The sport has rules that have been followed
for over one hundred years and clubs are unable
to alter the product to make it more attractive.
In fact, football clubs are limited to three
major revenue streams: Broadcasting, Commercial
Matchday revenue is limited by stadium capacity
Football clubs may have huge global audiences,
but only a fraction of the fans in India or
America will be able to make the pilgrimage
to Manchester or Milan.
Broadcasting revenue in the Premier League
increased from 45 million in 92 to almost
3 billion in 2020..
Impressive, but that still only equates to
around 1 euro per fan per season.
More money is made by the middleman: TV stations
who capitalize on footballs’ reach by selling
subscriptions and advertisements.
Commercial contracts also suffer from the
Take shirt sales for example.
Clubs may charge upwards of 100 euros for
a match shirt, but the big chunk goes to Nike,
Adidas and Puma.
Clubs are lucky to take home 10% of the sale
With player salaries and transfer costs on
the rise, it might feel odd to think about
how football can maximize revenues.
But while huge amounts of money are flowing
from fans to football, the clubs themselves
are only getting a tiny cut, with TV companies
and sponsors taking the rest.
And compared to the CEOs of the biggest companies,
even the salaries of Ronaldo and Messi don’t
seem so crazy anymore.
So what can football clubs do to close the
Mickey might have the answer.
Not long ago, if you wanted to watch a Disney
movie, you would have to sign up for multiple
services such as Netflix or Sky Movies, costing
you hundreds of euros a year.
Disney realised that they could make a lot
more money if they bundled all of their content
into one package and offered it to fans through
their own streaming service.
In November 2019, Disney Plus was born.
They can now boast over 116 million users
across the globe.
What Disney has done here is vertical integration.
This is when a company takes control over
a new stage of the production or distribution
of a product.
In Disney’s case, they were already producing
the product, but were allowing other companies
like Netflix to profit from distribution.
With Disney Plus, the company has cut out
the middleman and will take a larger share
of the profits.
In football, clubs are attempting to get around
the middleman, and closer to the fans, by
becoming media companies.
MUTV, Barca TV + and the Fifth Stand app are
just some examples of media services that
clubs have launched.
For a small fee, or even free of charge, clubs
give fans around the world access to exclusive
content, breaking news and live streams.
Not only does this give clubs a direct link
to their fanbase, it allows them to accumulate
incredible amounts of data.
With a deeper understanding of what makes
their fans tick, clubs are able to offer lucrative
targeted advertising to their sponsors and
some clubs have even started to use this data
to boost sales of merchandise.
Which is another area where clubs are keen
to cut out the middleman.
In 2021, Wolverhampton Wanderers rejected
a new kit deal with Adidas in favour of the
relatively unknown British brand Castore.
While Castore are technically a middleman
between Wolves and the fans, their relationship
with the club is drastically different than
found in traditional kit deals.
Wolverhampton Wanderers will take responsibility?
for most of the supply chain,?
allowing them to cut costs and take a bigger
slice of the sale price.
So how big is football?
From an economic standpoint, football’s
revenue is surprisingly negligible.
But in terms of popularity and reach, it is
the biggest sport in the world.
And that reach creates trickle down effects
that are very hard to measure.
Hundreds of jobs in the media, shoe or event
industry are created because of football,
but are not always counted in official statistics
as part of the “football industry”.
While the clubs and leagues might not be able
to compete with the biggest companies in the
world, they are superior when it comes to
entertaining and inspiring whole generations.
As you might have noticed, this video?
was packed with data about the football??
industry – and that’s why DataCamp is?
the perfect sponsor for this video!
Data analytics have come to play an important?
role in the football industry today.??
If you watched Moneyball, you know what?
we’re talking about. If you haven’t,??
go watch it! And then sign up for DataCamp.
DataCamp is an online learning platform that makes?
acquiring data skills easier and more convenient,??
for everyone! There are courses for all different?
levels: both newbies and pros can find great ways??
to grow their knowledge. DataCamp has over 350?
data science courses, designed by top experts.
For example this one on Data-Driven Decision?
Making for Business, where you’ll discover??
how to make better business decisions?
by applying practical data frameworks.
The whole experience is gamified and?
makes it super easy to get started??
and keep going – no coding required!
So if this got you hyped to help your favourite?
club succeed through data-driven decisions with??
some Moneyball intelligence, sign up for?
DataCamp using the link in the description.??
You can check out the first?
chapter of any course for free!