Sports' coming mega-weekend stands to bring big money

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Zack Greinke pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a game in Los Angeles.
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Sports fans will have a slew of viewing options this weekend. But some events stand to rake in significantly more cash than others. (Tweet this)

Consumers will find themselves choosing between the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League playoffs, the Kentucky Derby, boxing's biggest fight in years and a bevy of big Major League Baseball games.

Of those options, fans are most likely to watch, attend or listen to one of the MLB games, according to a Nielsen study. Saturday's welterweight bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao—which is likely to garner the most money—ranked last for viewer interest this weekend, according to Nielsen.

Here's how this weekend's events stack up in terms of revenue potential:

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao: Saturday, May 2 at 9 p.m. EDT

Pay-per-view will bring in the lion's share of the highly anticipated bout's cash flow.

Read MoreMayweather vs. Pacquaio: Where the money comes from

The fight may pull in 3 million viewers and rack up an estimated $400 million from a variety of sources—an astronomical onetime windfall for boxing.

Kentucky Derby: Saturday, May 2 at 4 p.m. EDT

Horse racing's biggest spectacle could bring $100 million to host venue Churchill Downs, according to Manish Tripathi, an Emory University marketing professor and co-founder of Emory Sports Marketing Analytics. Much of that money comes from premium seating.

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The event could attract upward of 16 million viewers, Tripathi added.

NBA playoffs:

  • Atlanta Hawks vs. Brooklyn Nets
  • Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls (if needed)
  • Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs (if needed)
  • Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors

The NBA's revenue potential falls short of the boxing match or the Kentucky Derby, Tripathi said. The latter events benefit from scarcity, whereas the NBA playoffs last for months.

Tripathi could not point to specific revenue numbers for the playoffs, but noted that league viewership has fallen year over year. Games are averaging roughly 2 million to 3 million viewers, he said.

Still, the NBA has no trouble making money. The league raked in roughly $4.8 billion in revenue in its full 2013-2014 season, according to Statista, an online statistics portal.

NHL playoffs:

  • Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens
  • Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks
  • Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers
  • Calgary Flames vs. Anaheim Ducks

The NBA has generally garnered more monetary appeal than the NHL. For instance, the pro basketball league's annual TV rights cost about four times as much as the NHL's, according to Vanderbilt University sports economist John Vrooman.

The NHL racked up $3.7 billion in revenue in its last full season, according to Statista.

MLB: NY Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox: Friday, Saturday and Sunday

One of the sport's oldest and most well-documented rivalries headlines dozens of MLB games this weekend. The teams draw eyeballs when they meet, and are still two of the most marketable franchises in American sports.

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