The Korea Baseball Organization Properties (KBOP), the marketing wing of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), said the league earned 35 billion won (US$32.9 million) in baseball-related businesses in 2012, surpassing the previous record of 34 billion won set in 2011.
The eight KBO clubs drew about 7.15 million fans in 2012, the first time that the KBO's attendance reached over 7 million since the league's inception in 1982. It also marked the fourth straight season in which the KBO broke its single-season attendance record.
According to the KBOP, the league earned a record 63.4 billion won in ticket sales in 2012, up from 55.1 billion won in 2011. But since ticket revenue was split evenly among the KBO teams, the figure didn't count toward the KBO's revenue.
Among the league's sources of revenues, its television contract with local broadcasters accounted for 25 billion won, and corporate sponsorships brought in 8 billion. The league also made 2 billion won from merchandise sales.
The KBO has distributed its revenue, minus expenses, equally among its eight teams, with each taking 3.8 billion won.
South Korea's gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and its runner-up finish at the 2009 World Baseball Classic have been credited with driving up baseball's popularity here.
This year, the KBO will welcome its ninth club, the NC Dinos, in its first expansion since 1991. In addition, two local companies are competing for the right to launch a 10th KBO team, which could join the league by as early as 2015.
The current TV contract, worth 25 billion won a year, expires at the end of 2014. The KBOP predicted that should baseball sustain its popularity in the coming years, the next TV deal could be worth upwards of 40 billion won a year.
South Korea's gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and its runner-up finish at the 2009 World Baseball Classic have been credited with bringing more fans to ballparks.