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Major League Soccer sets new team sponsorship revenue record


Major League Soccer (MLS) achieved an unprecedented team sponsorship revenue of $587 million in 2023, reflecting a 15 percent year-on-year increase, as revealed by a detailed study conducted by SponsorUnited.

Finance, healthcare and insurance brands emerged as the major contributors, investing substantial amounts of $92 million, $79 million and $47 million (all amounts USD), respectively.

Active brands such as Adidas, Continental, and BodyArmor led the way, securing 30, 30 and 28 deals, respectively, in activations or signage by teams during the season.

The financial category experienced the newest brand deals during the season, totalling 32, with almost half falling under the investment services subcategory. Conversely, the non-fungible token (NFT), and betting and daily fantasy subcategories witnessed contractions, with 17 and eight fewer sponsorship deals.

Sporting Kansas City continued to lead all MLS teams with an impressive 125 sponsorship deals, followed closely by Austin FC and FC Cincinnati. In terms of player endorsements, Lionel Messi of Inter Miami secured the top spot with an impressive 21 brand endorsements.

Other standout players include Los Angeles FC’s Kellyn Acosta, Los Angeles Galaxy’s Javier Hernandez, Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman, and the Houston Dynamo’s Hector Herrera.

The MLS experienced a significant boost in exposure, attracting over one million viewers for key matches and witnessing a five percent increase in attendance, reaching nearly 11 million attendees. This surge in visibility resulted in a remarkable 16 percent increase in sponsorship deals during the season. On average, the number of sponsorships per team rose from 65 to 75, with over half of the clubs registering double-digit increases in deals.

“The surge in MLS’ team sponsorship revenue to over half a billion dollars is a remarkable testament to the league’s rising prominence and their ability to leverage the global excitement of the World Cup, Messi’s star power and the Apple partnership,” commented Bob Lynch, the founder and chief executive of SponsorUnited.

“Additionally, it’s important to remember that the league’s investment in aggressive club expansion (nine markets added over seven years) has been pivotal in driving fan engagement and revenue growth. These factors underscore MLS’ growing influence in the global sports landscape, making it an exhilarating time for soccer in North America.”

Inter Miami, propelled by the ‘Messi effect’ and the Argentine soccer superstar’s recognition as the world’s most marketable athlete for 2023, anticipates substantial financial gains. Xavier Asensi, Inter Miami’s chief business officer, projects a record $120 million for 2023, more than double its $50 million in 2022. The club has set an ambitious target of $200 million for the next season, signalling continued success and growth for MLS clubs.

Image credit: Patrick Rouin

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