Why do NHL Players get paid less than NBA, NFL, and MLB?

Nobody feels sorry about the pay NHL players receive because they still make millions of dollars. The best-earning NHL players appear to earn far less than those in the other top US/Canadian professional sports. This is accurate. But why do NHL players get paid less than NBA, NFL, and MLB? 

NHL income is lower than that of other professional sports in North America, which is the primary factor in NHL players’ lower salaries. Players have less money to spend. You could assume that hockey is the game with the lowest wage when comparing NHL wages to those of leagues like the NBA, MLB, and NFL.

What are the reasons; why NHL skaters get less salary than NBA, NFL, and MLB? Let’s explore below in this article!

The High, Low, and Average Salary for each sports league

There wouldn’t be any hockey skaters on a list of the highest 100-paid athletes in the world. Although there is plenty of successful tennis, golf, basketball, football, and other sports players, hockey skaters are extinct. 

To further understand why hockey falls behind, let’s concentrate on the four biggest clubs in North America instead of the entire globe: NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB.

LeagueLow Average High Highest Paid Player 
NHL$750000$9,850,000$13,000,000Tyler Seguin
NBA$2,905,851$9,662,447$48,070,014Curry Stephen Curry
NFL$465,000 $2.1000,00$46.1000,00Kyler Murray
MLB$563,500$44.100,00$43.3300,00Max Scherzer

Related Post: What is the average salary for an NHL player?

Sources Of Revenue

Television both national & regional licenses and ticket prices are the two main sources of income for all professional sports leagues.

The NFL is the most well-known club and has the largest broadcast agreement. But they are only capable of selling tickets for 16 games each season. It includes 17 once their new CBA kicks in. 


Due to the large number of matches (162) and the huge venues they perform in, MLB generates the most amount of ticket income. The NHL is known for having fervent supporters who are willing to spend premium ticket costs and are committed to their club. 

Thus, they do very well in ticket sales and other partnerships. The NHL lags behind all of these other clubs in terms of TV revenue. It particularly includes that derived from the national tv agreement in the United States.

Revenue of TV Deals

Look at the chart below, which shows the international rights deals each club obtains:

League National TV Revenue $/Year 
NHL $700 Million (Canada + U.S.) 
NBA $2.66 Billion 
NFL $4.95 Billion 
MLB $3.6 Billion 

The $500 million annual revenue they receive from the Canadian national licensing agreement is in that sum. When opposed to the NFL contract, $200 million annually is a trivial amount. 

The NHL’s television contract is only maintained because of the NHL’s Canadian agreement. The NHL is capable of generating so much money with a U.S. broadcast deal that is so much less expensive than its competitors. 

This illustrates how the organization has been capable of increasing internal revenue through ticket sales, partnerships, and licensing deals.

The NHL’s upcoming American television contract should be more expensive, in my opinion. In the 1970s and the first part of the 1980s, the NHL enjoyed greater popularity in the United States than in the NBA.

Will it recur in any way? Maybe not, but it does demonstrate that there is still a lot of opportunity for improvement.

Related Post: What is the annual revenue of the NHL?

Size of Roster

The number of individuals on a squad has an impact on how much an NHL player makes in comparison to other professional sports. For example, the NFL has the greatest squad of any club while also bringing in the most money. They have a larger amount as a result, but it is split up among more skaters. 

The NBA has the shortest teams and each player receives a higher share of the prize money. The average wage for an NBA skater is the largest among the four sports. 

The highest squad size for the NHL is 23 skaters. And among those players, the lower part of the squad performs excellently in comparison to other games.


The NHL has the most excellent minimum wage when comparing the minimum salaries for each club. The NFL has the lowest average compensation at $2.1000,00. The basic wage for an NHL player is $750,000. And, you must consider that NHL agreements are secured as an organization cannot cut them off completely, unlike the NFL.

I am always amazed that the other clubs do not compete for the players at the bottom a little tougher. For example, it appears that every aspect of hockey is targeted toward players who have reached the free-agent market. While players who are just joining the game are given the bread.

How is it that Jacoby Ellerby is given tens of billions of dollars for doing nothing? But Aaron Judge only makes under a million dollars. That is one example, but it is not unusual.

So, the NHL players at the bottom receive better treatment than those in other organizations, even though the top players are paid less.

Related Post: Who Is The Highest-Paid Player In The NHL?

Who are the Highest Paid Athletes?

There are no professionals from the sport of hockey among the top 100 athletes in the world. Along with their performing fees, this list also contains their sponsorship compensation.

The top 10 players are listed below in the chart:

AthleteSportSalary + Other Income
1. Lionel MessiSoccer$130 million USD
2. LeBron JamesBasketball (NBA)$121.2 million USD
3. Christiano RonaldoSoccer$115 million USD
4. Neymar (da Silva Santos Júnior)Soccer$95 million USD
5. Stephen CurryBasketball (NBA)$92.8 million USD
6. Kevin DurantBasketball (NBA)$92.1 million USD
7. Roger FedererTennis $90.7 million USD
8. Canelo Alvaraez Boxing$90 million USD
9. Tom BradyFootball (NFL)$83.9 million USD
10. Giannis AntetokounmpoBasketball (NBA)$80.9 million USD

Conclusion: Why do NHL Players get paid less than NBA, NFL, and MLB?

NHL players do receive lower salaries overall than NBA, NFL, and MLB teams. The truth is that it does not compensate as well as basketball, baseball, or football. But why do NHL players get paid less than the NBA, and NFL, MLB? It is because they earn less from tv transmission as well as ticket earnings.

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