NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As sports have gained in popularity over the years, owning a sports franchise has become an extremely lucrative investment.
Take the NFL for example. In 2010, Commissioner Roger Goodell set an annual revenue goal of $25 billion by 2027. At the time the NFL was reporting $8.5 billion in annual revenue, suggesting a revenue increase of $1 billion annually to reach that goal.
Across the pond, Premier League soccer clubs are set to generate a combined $4.67 billion in revenue this current season, a 25% increase from the previous season. Real Madrid of Spain's La Liga football league took in $709.8 million alone last season.
What is driving this jump in revenues? Broadcast television rights and licensing agreements. The NFL signed a nine-year extension with its broadcasting partners in 2011. Broadcast television, cable, satellite, radio, mobile and Internet media outlets will collectively pay about $7 billion annually to the league starting this year until the contract expires in 2022.
The league, which participates in revenue sharing with its 32 franchises, will divide that money up evenly, meaning every team will receive over $200 million for just being a part of the league. Factor in local television deals, ticket sales, jersey sales and stadium concessions and you get the Dallas Cowboys - the league's most profitable team - raking in $539 million in revenue last season.
The Premier League recently finalized local and international broadcast rights that will pay the league approximately $11 billion from 2013-2016. That money is then distributed amongst the top 20 clubs in the league. Its top earner, Manchester United, brought in $579.7 million in revenue last season.
Here is a look at the people gaining the most from this rise in revenue, the owners of the eight most valuable sports franchises in world.
Franchise: Real Madrid
Team Owner: Socio
Team Value: $3.3 Billion
2013 Revenue: $709.8 million
Real Madrid's ownership group is pretty unique amongst sports franchises as it is owned by its 93,000 annual dues paying membership; socios (translated "partners" or "members"). Each youth member pays about $69 dollars while adults pay about $200 annually for the right to be a part of the club.
The club's business is handled by the club's management board, headed by board President Florentino Perez. The socios elect the president every four years, but do not have any say over the team's finances or player acquisition decisions.