German soccer league Bundesliga profitable because fans come first

FC Bayern Munich celebrate their clinch of the 2014 Bundesliga (Source: Getty Images)
FC Bayern Munich celebrate their clinch of the 2014 Bundesliga (Source: Getty Images)

The German soccer first division, the Bundesliga, has been the most stable and financially sound of the European big four leagues: England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and the aforementioned Bundesliga in Germany. Bundesliga has been operating differently than the powerhouse English Premier League, and in return it has gained financial success and stability.

The Bundesliga I is the top tier in the German Football League, and is comprised of 18 teams, the most renowned being FC Bayern Munich, which just secured the 2014 Bundesliga Title. The German League is fan-oriented, charging much less for tickets than the English Premier League (EPL). The average price for the cheapest ticket for a Bundesliga match is £10.33, compared to £28.30 for an EPL match. The table below describes the average match-day ticket prices for the four European leagues.

The Bundesliga also limits the number of season tickets, giving more fans a chance to watch the games live. Despite having all the games shown live on television, Bundesliga fans still attend games in droves.

According to the Bundesliga 2013 Report, the German League set the record of highest attendance for the 2011-2012 season, with about 44,000 fans per match, 10,000 more than the EPL, which had an average of about 34,000. The affordable prices and availability of home tickets translates to more fans and popularity.

Another way to grasp the success of the Bundesliga is through the calculation of the fan per commercial revenue, published by Forbes. Germany dominated the list, with three of the top five teams being from the Bundesliga. Forbes determined these calculations by dividing each team’s commercial revenue (sponsorship and merchandise) by the sum of their Facebook and Twitter fans. The German club Hamburg SV is at the top of the list, generating $116.69 per Facebook and Twitter fan. Bayern Munich is fourth, generating $20.12 per fan.

Fans per commercial revenue (source: Forbes Magazine)
Fans per commercial revenue (source: Forbes Magazine)

Despite the numbers, one might say that the EPL is far more successful because of the revenue it generates. This is true, however don’t forget the expenses that come with the EPL, leaving the net revenue much smaller than its gross. The EPL generated $3.8 billion for the 2011-2012 season, over $1 billion more than the second-most generating league: the Bundesliga.

However, the Bundesliga had profits of $242 million, far more than the EPL’s $154 million. One reason is that German clubs only spent about half of their revenue on wages, as opposed to the English, who spent 70 percent on wages. Below is a comparison of revenue generated and percentage spent on wages from all five leagues in Europe, as well as average attendance from the 2011-2012 season.

EPL is the msot wealthy, but the Bundesliga is most profitable (Source: Deloitte)
EPL is the most wealthy, but the Bundesliga is most profitable (Source: Deloitte)

The Bundesliga attributes its financial success to three stable sources of income: television revenue, sponsorships and gate revenues. With low ticket prices, highly attended matches and social media success, the Bundesliga is deemed the most profitable league in European soccer.

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