Wednesday 16 January 2013

The value of hockey

Map showing 2011-2012 revenue for the 30 NHL teams.
Well hockey's back, which got me thinking about the value of the teams, how much they make and how profitable (or unprofitable) they are. Are Canadian teams on significantly firmer financial grounds?

Fortunately Forbes has already done all the legwork.

Let's start with what Forbes figures each of the teams are worth:

Which is all fine, except I'm not sure how much faith I'd put in some of Forbes' valuations. They appear to be based on a few recent team sales, which are then extrapolated to all the other teams (the vast majority of which have not been sold recently). I think a better way would be to measure revenue:
Which is pretty interesting, it shows the smaller Canadian teams (ie those that aren't Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver) being fairly middle of the pack. So I wonder, do they compare on income?
As you can see, Canadian teams rank better by this metric - although they might not bring in as much money, they make more profit than most. None are losing money, unlike 13 of the US teams. For whatever reason, it's cheaper, or at least more cost effective, to run a hockey team in Canada. Here's a chart I think demonstrates this, showing income as a percent of revenue.
Note the seven Canadian teams are all in the league's 11 most profitable.

Here's one final chart - a scatter plot showing income versus Forbes' valuation.
Note that I replaced regular dots with adorable little maple leaves for Canadian teams. Note also that, with the exception of the New York Rangers, Canadian teams seem to be on a totally different line of best fit than the American teams. In other words, Forbes seems to be valuing American teams more generously than Canadian teams - the Calgary Flames, for example, are valued at slightly less than the Washington Capitals, despite having raised $11 million more revenue and $12 million more profit (Calgary having made $11 million in the 2011-2012 season and Washington having lost $1 million). Forbes also seems to have a stigma against hockey in relation to other sports. The sum total it values the 30 NHL teams at ($8.5 billion) is only 71% of the value it assigns to all the NBA teams ($11.8 billion) despite having 85% of the revenues ($3.3 billion compared to $4.0 billion) and 143% of the profits ($250 million compared to $175 million). All this 2 bit analysis should be taken with a grain of salt: I'm ignoring debt here, and I'm ignoring other organizational assets like arenas and farm teams. Maybe Canadian teams tend not to own their own arenas or something.

The other thing I takeaway from this is that while almost half of the league (13 teams) lost money in the 2010-2011 season, the league as a whole generated $250 million dollars of profit on revenues of $3.4 billion. To me that suggests people are overly pessimistic about hockey - as mentioned above it is much more profitable than the NBA, for instance. But that's a story for another day.