Just 2 months of coronavirus shutdown for the NBA, NHL, and MLB could cost America's major sports leagues $5 billion

Photos by Harry How/Jamie Squire/Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesWith no action going on, sports teams are going to lose a lot of money.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has postponed many of the world’s top sports leagues and events.
  • The cost to major American leagues could be $US5 billion over the first two months of shutdown, Forbes reported. A longer hiatus could see revenue losses top $US10 billion.
  • There is a way to mitigate losses, though, as the NBA and NHL should do all it can to ensure a post-season can take place when it is safe to do so, Forbes reported, citing a media rights expert.
  • Play-offs are the most lucrative part of the American sports landscape, and the most valuable to broadcasters.
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The coronavirus pandemic which has shut down major leagues and organisations around the world, could cost American sports more than $US5 billion if sports are stopped for two months, Forbes reported.

The NBA, MLB, NHL, and NCAA postponed their seasons last week and might not restart for at least two months. Should health issues keep sports on a longer hiatus, then the costs will only escalate.

Lost ticket sales, sponsorships, and TV-rights fees were cited by Forbes as three reasons for the revenue losses, with baseball – which was due to start its season in the coming weeks – expected to lose out on $US2 billion.

Which sports will fare worst from a two-month postponement period:

  1. Baseball (MLB) – $US2 billion
  2. Basketball (NBA) – $US1.2 billion
  3. College basketball (NCAA) – $US1 billion
  4. Hockey, motor sport, and soccer (NHL, NASCAR, and MLS) – $US900 million

These calculations assumes that the basketball and hockey seasons will be up and running again by June, Forbes said.

With operations restored, there could be a spike in popularity from a sports-starved audience, but should the pandemic cause lengthier delays to the American sports calendar, then the NBA and NHL could expect to miss out on $US10 billion in lost revenue.

One way to ensure losses are mitigated is by ensuring that, regardless of whether the bulk of a season is lost, sports leagues should strive to preserve and promote its post-seasons as play-offs are the most lucrative part.

“The national NBA and NHL TV deals are very weighted towards the playoffs,” Chris Bevilacqua, a media rights negotiator, told Forbes.

“If those postseasons happen, the leagues will able to preserve most, if not all, of those rights fees.”

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