Discover The Big Four of the US Sports!

Reading Time: 4 minutes read

The major professional leagues in the United States of America and Canada are quite fascinating. They are the highest professional competitions when it comes to team sports. No surprise they are called the “Big Four” of the US sports. 

We are talking about major leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. We’ll talk more about the big four, ranked by popularity. 

🏈 National Football League – NFL / Revenue: $9,500 billion

The first on the list is the National Football League is one of the most-watched and attended professional leagues in the world. It is also the most popular when it comes to merchandising and television ratings. This is the only major league that doesn’t include any Canadian teams since Canada has its own football league where the rules are different from the NFL. The National Football League, founded in 1920, was a combination of various regional leagues. The league today has 32 teams and makes the highest revenue as well. The NFL earned over $9.5 billion in national revenue in 2020.

🏀 National Basketball Association – NBA / Revenue: $8,300 million

The National Basketball Association or the NBA is a premier basketball league founded in 1946 by the Basketball Association of America. In 1949 it changed the league’s name to what it is today. There were two different associations for basketball – ABA (American Basketball Association) and NBA (National Basketball Association). The merger happened in 1976 and today the league has a total of 30 teams. One of the teams is from Canada and the rest are American. According to ESPN, NBA’s revenue dropped 10% to $8.3 billion for the 2019-20 season, after the losses because of the coronavirus pandemic.


⚾ Major League Baseball – MLB / Revenue: $6,400 billion

Being the highest level of play of baseball in North America, Major League Baseball consists of two different leagues – National League (1876) and American League (1901). Both these leagues started to play together back in 1903 and were organized in a way they shared a single Commissioner. Major League Baseball today has 30 member teams of which one is in Canada and the rest are American.  Baseball was traditionally known as the National Pastime since it was the first professional sport the United States ever had. But at present, other Major leagues have taken over in popularity, making baseball no longer be the number one sport. According to Forbes, the annual revenue of the MLB industry in 2019 was a staggering record of $10,7 billion. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Baseball’s total revenue dropped about $6.4 billion in 2020. This is an estimation Forbes did after the MLB teams declared that 40% of their total revenue comes from ticket selling.

🏒 National Hockey League – NHL / Revenue: $4,370 million

Founded in 1917, the National Hockey League is a North American professional ice hockey league, consisting of franchises in Canada and the United States. There are a total of 31 teams in the league, 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The World Hockey Association and National Hockey League association happened in 1979. The revenue for the league totaled $4.37 billion during the 2019-20 season, 14% less than the previous year.

Covid Cost

There are other notable leagues that are played in North America like Canadian Football League or ⚽ Major League Soccer. This last is gaining popularity each time but by now, its revenues do not have the level of the four mentioned above. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic crisis has caused a lot of damages to the Sports industry, with important financial losses. Concerning NFL, the losses have been from $2.7 to $3 billion. NBA league has lost about $1.5 billion, MLB has experienced a total of $6.5 billion in losses. The NHL, as well as the MLS, had both about $1 billion in losses.

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