The coronavirus outbreak has caused unprecedented disruption to the sports industry. It dealt a huge blow to leagues, teams, players, fans, and businesses. What will the sporting world look like after the crisis? Learn more with STATSCORE.
The outbreak od COVID-19 is having a tremendous effect on economies around the world. The disease has already reached almost every country on the planet, with 2,5 million people infected worldwide, and more than 170,000 deaths. Lockdowns have been imposed by numerous governments, which helps to stem the spread of the disease, but which also wreaks havoc to the economy. The world of sports has, of course, been hit extremely hard with these developments.
How hard has sport been hit by the virus?
The most prestigious events had to be postponed, including the Olympic Games, EURO 2020, and Copa America, while the top leagues (English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, NBA, MLB, NHL) suspended their seasons. When it comes to football (soccer) there are only four leagues worldwide that keep playing despite everything (Nicaragua, Tajikistan, Belarus and Burundi).
And when there are no games, everyone involved loses. Most obviously, the clubs and players are losing money, because their activities had to be cancelled or suspended. Fans can’t go watch the games, they don’t pay for broadcasts, they don’t travel, don’t take flights, don’t go to pubs, don’t place bets… We can see very clearly how everything is related here.
A combined 501 matches for the Big Five Leagues were yet to be played, with Premier League having 92 matches, LaLiga 74, Bundesliga 110, Serie A 124 and La Liga 101.
In the USA, the rebooted professional American football league, XFL, had to file for bankruptcy when its FIRST EVER season had to be suspended.
Potential NBA losses only for the gate revenues can amount to about 450 mln USD.
COVID-19 impact on betting
Sports betting is one of the industries that have been put in a very difficult situation because of the lack of sporting events. In the UK itself, three in four bets are normally placed on football or horse racing. And all such events have been suspended.
It is expected to take an 11% hit in overall gambling revenue this year according to H2 Gambling Capital.
The sports gambling industry may lose $140 million alone one weekend on NCAA basketball tournament bets and, according to the American Gaming Association, up to $43.5 billion in economic activity in the coming months.
Fans and bettors turn to Esports and… table tennis
Sports fans are, without a doubt, hungry for the sporting emotions. But where can they find them?
We can see some interesting trends here:
- TV channels and leagues’ profiles in social media broadcast old classic games – and lots of fans are loving it!
The NBA is an example of a league which allows fans to rewatch classic games from the past. They are published on the league’s Facebook page. Fans are also enjoying The Last Dance, a Netflix/ESPN documentary on the last season of Michael Jordan in Chicago Bulls.
- Esports has new fans!
When there are no ‘real’ sports, fans are turning to esports – including NBA 2K20 and FIFA – more than ever in the past. And they’re willing to bet on them. Bookmakers are now trying to provide them with relevant bets, data and visualisations to engage them even more!
- Niche sports and leagues are having their moment
Table tennis never had so many fans as it has now! Desperate sports fans and bettors are also turning to darts. Moreover, football leagues in Nicaragua, Burundi, Belarus, and Tajikistan are increasing their fan base around the world!
- People are betting on political events
In March, Brits wagered £1.1m on political events — a 95% increase on the previous month, according to sports betting company Smarkets
Top leagues are planning to come back
World’s top football leagues just can’t afford to keep losing millions of dollars every day, and so many of them are drawing comeback plans.
The leagues that are considering return options include the NHL, NBA, Premier League, and Serie A. In fact, many countries, such as the Czech Republic and Austria, have already started to ease some sports-related restrictions!
Some of the resumption plans may seem overly optimistic, but we have to keep in mind that in most cases, even if they come true, the games will be held under special regulations and without an audience. Sporting events will surely not be what they used to be for quite a long period of time.
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