Dallas Cowboys remain NFL’s most valuable franchise at $3.2 billion, according to Forbes


(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Over the last eight years, the Dallas Cowboys have made the playoffs all of three times, with zero postseason appearances since 2009. Yet for each of those eight years, Forbes magazine has dubbed Dallas the most valuable franchise in the NFL, including this year in rankings that were released Wednesday.

Forbes pegged the Cowboys’ value at $3.2 billion after the team took in $560 million in revenue in 2013.

The Patriots ($2.6 billion), Redskins ($2.4 billion) and New York Giants ($2.1 billion) followed the Cowboys atop the rankings for the following reason:

Short explanation: the Cowboys, Patriots, Redskins and Giants were the only NFL teams that were among the league’s top five in both premium seating revenue (at least $55 million) and stadium sponsorship revenue (over $40 million) in 2013. Each of these four teams also saw their values climb by 39% or more the past year.

Despite what Forbes called a “a widening wealth gap in the NFL due to the piles of cash big market teams generate from modern stadiums and the premium a buyer would be willing to pay for entry into the most elite U.S. sports league in a big city,” team owners of all stripes still have it pretty good, Forbes writes:

For the 2013 season, the average NFL team generated record revenue (net of proceeds used to pay off stadium debt) and record operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $299 million and $53 million, respectively. Each of the NFL’s 32 teams took in a record $170 million of national revenue, mainly  from league-wide broadcasting  and licensing fees.

The NFL is by far the most popular sport on television and media right fees underpin the league’s sweeping increase in team values. Thanks to new broadcasting deals with NBC, ESPN, CBS and Fox that begin with the 2014 season, evenly-split revenue will increase to $250 million over the next four years. In addition, the league’s one-year Thursday Night Football deal with CBS will add $275 million in revenue to the league this season. And the NFL’s deal with DirecTV–which recently began to offer streaming options–is expected to increase substantially from its current $1 billion a year fee to the league given the importance of the NFL to the value of the satellite television provider.

Forbes reporter Mike Ozanzian also reports that several unnamed NFL owners have told him that two NFL teams would be moving to Los Angeles “within two years.” Those two teams — Ozanian thinks it will be the Rams and the Raiders (the latter being wholly unsurprising) — would share a new stadium.

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