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The Data Behind Surging NBA Team Valuations

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At the beginning of this decade, the NBA was not on firm footing. More than half of the league’s teams were losing money, and negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement were looming.

Today, however, the NBA has undeniable momentum, buoyed by hefty broadcast agreements and superstars like LeBron James and Steph Curry. With interest in the NFL flagging in the U.S., professional basketball appears to be seizing the opportunity to win over sports fans and grow the popularity of the league.

This momentum has pushed team valuations to new heights, with the median team now being worth a solid $1.56 billion.

What are the exact valuations of individual franchises in the league, and how are these values derived? Let’s dig into Forbes’ annual NBA Valuations Ranking to learn more.

Breaking down team value

Forbes has broken down the value of an NBA team valuations into four components:

Sport: The revenue shared equally among all teams in the league
Market: City and market size
Arena: Revenues from sources such as attendance and premium seating
Brand: The actual value of the team’s brand

Every single team in the NBA is now valued at over $1 billion, and all but one team (the Cavaliers) were profitable last year.

For teams like the Knicks and Lakers, it’s easy to see how their huge market size contributes to their sky-high valuations. The former is currently the second-most-valuable sports franchise in America, tied with the New York Yankees.

While the biggest teams are worth more than double the NBA median value, the rising tide appears to be lifting all boats. The median team value has risen steadily and is up nearly 200% since 2014.

NBA Team Valuations Median

Gold Rush

The biggest story in basketball over recent years has been the ascension of the Golden State Warriors.

Making the NBA finals four seasons in a row – and winning three of those match-ups – has had a massive impact on the team’s value, which has shot up 367% over the last five years. As the team moves to the brand new Chase Center next season, Golden State may even have a shot at surpassing the Knicks or Lakers in overall valuation.

Here are the top five gainers over the past five years:

NBA team value gainers

Fan Power

The teams with the highest revenue-per-fan are typically in smaller markets like Salt Lake City and Oklahoma City, though both cities are unique in that an NBA franchise is their only professional sports team.

The struggling Chicago Bulls comes in near the bottom by revenue-per-fan, despite being the fourth most valuable team in the league.

nba revenue per team

Shifting Gravity

In recent years, LeBron James has been one of the most electrifying personalities in professional sports, however, his influence on the NBA is now proving to be a double-edged sword. Since LeBron moved time zones from Cleveland to Los Angeles, NBA viewership is down – a dip that is particularly pronounced during the earlier Eastern Conference time slot.

Despite the slight dip in viewership, NBA teams are more profitable than they’ve ever been, and as the NBA turns its sights eastward to China, today’s valuations may seem modest in a few years time.

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Misc

These Powerful Maps Show the Extremes of U.S. Population Density

The U.S. population is spread across a huge amount of land, but its distribution is far from equal. These maps are a unique look at population density

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us cities population density equivalent map

America’s 328 million people are spread across a huge amount of territory, but the population density of various regions is far from equal.

It’s no secret that cities like New York have a vastly different population density than, say, a rural county in North Dakota. Even so, this interactive map by Ben Blatt of Slate helps visualize the stark contrast between urban and rural densities in a way that might intrigue you.

How many counties does it take to equal the population of these large urban areas? Let’s find out.

New York City’s Rural Equivalent

New York City (proper) Population: 8.42 million
New York City Population density: 27,547 persons / mi²

New York City became the largest city in the U.S. back in 1781 and has long been the country’s most densely packed urban center. Today, 1 in every 38 people living in the United States resides in The Big Apple.

new york city population density equivalent map

For the northwestern counties above to match the population of New York City, it takes a land area around the size of Mongolia. The region shown above is 645,934 mi², and runs through portions of 12 different states.

In order to match the population of the entire New York metropolitan area, which holds 18 million people and includes adjacent cities and towns in New York state, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the above equivalent area would have to be even more massive.

Los Angeles County’s Rural Equivalent

LA County Population: 10.04 million
LA County Population density: 2,100 persons / mi²

Los Angeles County is home to the 88 incorporated cities that make up the urban area of Los Angeles.

Even excluding nearby population centers such as Anaheim, San Bernadino, and Riverside (which are located in adjacent counties) it is still the most populous county in the United States, with over 10 million inhabitants.

los angeles county population density equivalent map

To match this enormous scale in Middle America, it would take 298 counties covering an area of 471,941 mi².

Chicago’s Rural Equivalent

Chicago Metropolitan Area Population: 9.53 million
Chicago Metropolitan Area Population density: 1,318 persons / mi²

Next up is America’s third largest city, Chicago. For this visualization, we’re using the Chicago metropolitan area, which covers the full extent of the city’s population.

chicago population density equivalent map

To match the scale of the population of the Windy City, we would need to add up every county in New Mexico, along with large portions of Colorado, Arizona, and Texas.

Turning the Tables?

Conversely, what if we transported the people in the country’s least densely populated counties into the middle of an urban center?

RankCountyPopulation
1Kalawao County, Hawaii86
2Loving County, Texas169
3King County, Texas272
4Kenedy County, Texas404
5Arthur County, Nebraska463

As it turns out, the total population of the five least populated counties is just 1,394—roughly the same amount of people that live on the average Manhattan block.

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Visualized: Comparing the Titanic to a Modern Cruise Ship

The sheer size of the Titanic was a sight to behold in 1912, but over 100 years later, how does this vessel compare to a modern cruise ship?

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Remembering the Tragedy of the Titanic

When the Titanic was completed on April 2, 1912, it was the largest and perhaps most luxurious ship in the world. The vessel could hold over 3,300 people including crew members, and boasted various amenities including a swimming pool and squash court.

The Titanic’s impressive size attracted many of the world’s wealthiest individuals, and on April 10, 1912, it set out on its maiden voyage. Just five days later, the ship sank after hitting an iceberg, resulting in more than 1,500 deaths.

It’s been over 100 years since the Titanic’s demise, so how have passenger ships evolved?

To find out, we’ve visualized it beside Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, currently the world’s largest cruise ship.

The Size of the Titanic, in Perspective

The following table lists the dimensions of both ships to provide a better understanding of the Titanic’s relative size.

 RMS TitanicSymphony of the Seas
Year Built19122018
Length882ft (269m) 1,184ft (361m)
Width92ft (28m)215ft (66m)
Height175ft (53m)238ft (73m)
Internal volume46,328 gross register tonnage (grt)228,081 gross tonnage (gt)
Passengers2,4356,680
Crew8922,200

Source: Owlcation, Insider
Note: Gross register tonnage (grt) is a historic measure of a ship’s internal volume. This metric was replaced by gross tonnage (gt) on July 18, 1982.

One of the biggest differences between these two ships is width, with the latter being more than twice as wide. This is likely due to the vast amenities housed within the Symphony of the Seas, which includes 24 pools, 22 restaurants, 2 rock climbing walls, an ice-skating rink, and more. With accommodations for 6,680 passengers, the Symphony of the Seas also supports a crew that is 147% larger.

The Symphony of the Seas clearly surpasses the Titanic in terms of size, but there’s also a substantial difference in cost. When converted to today’s dollars, the bill for the Titanic equates to roughly $400 million, less than half of the Symphony of the Seas’ cost of $1.35 billion.

Lessons Learned from the Disaster

Inadequate safety preparations were a contributor to the Titanic’s high death toll. During its journey, the vessel carried enough lifeboats to accommodate just 33% of its total passengers and crew. This was legal at the time, as regulations based a ship’s number of required lifeboats on its weight, rather than its passenger capacity.

To make matters worse, investigations determined that the Titanic’s lifeboats had not been used to their full capacity, and that a scheduled lifeboat drill had been cancelled by the ship’s captain. These shortfalls, among others, paved the way for numerous improvements in maritime safety regulation.

These include the creation of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea Treaty (SOLAS) in 1914, which is still in force today. Regarded as the most important international treaty on ship safety, SOLAS has been updated numerous times and is followed by 164 states, which together flag 99% of merchant ships (by gross tonnage) on the high seas today.

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