The value of the Chicago Bulls has doubled in the past year and the team is now worth an estimated $2 billion, reports Forbes.
The average NBA team increased in value by 74 percent to $1.1 billion — the biggest one-year gain since Forbes began valuing teams in the four major U.S. sports leagues in 1998.
The Lakers ($2.6 billion) and Knicks ($2.5 billion) are the most valuable teams in the league. The Bulls ($2 billion), Celtics ($1.7 billion) and Clippers ($1.6 billion) round out the top five.
According to Crain’s, the Forbes estimation would make the Bulls the most valuable franchise in Chicago — bigger than the Bears ($1.7 billion), Cubs ($1.2 billion), Blackhawks ($825 million) and White Sox ($695 million).
In October the league inked expanded national media deals with Walt Disney (ESPN /ABC) and Time Warner (TNT) that are worth $930 million a year, nearly three times the current contracts. They will begin with the 2016-17 season. The NBA has bucked the overall decline in ratings across TV with viewership for regular season games up 26% since the 2002-03 season.
There are now 11 NBA teams worth at least $1 billion, by our count, compared to three a year ago. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the way at $2.6 billion, up 93% over last year. The Lakers finished with their second worst record in franchise history at 27-55 last season and are faring even worse this year, but the team has the richest local TV deal in the sport: a 20-year, $4 billion contract with Time Warner that kicked off in 2012. Ratings on SportsNet LA were off 54% last year, but the team still pocketed $125 million for the season from Time Warner. The team’s operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was an NBA-record $104 million in a year when Kobe Bryant missed all but six games. The haul would have been even greater, but the Lakers were forced to contribute $50 million to the NBA’s revenue-sharing pool last season. The Lakers had the NBA’s highest revenue at $293 million, net of revenue sharing.