Why TV ratings in sports are more important than attendance

The amount of revenue generated by major North American sports team from the selling of media rights (TV, radio, internet, etc.) is projected to surpass the amount of revenue generated from ticket sales in 2018, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report (via Sports Business Daily). As a result, television ratings have now become the driving force behind sports, even bigger than actually bringing fans to the games.

This is not to say that ticket sales are not important. They are still a major revenue stream and have a stronger potential impact on the perceived popularity of the team.

That is, the more popular a team appears to be, the more fans the will generate, the more people they will draw to television sets, and the more merchandise they will sell. Empty stadiums have the opposite affect. Just ask the Tampa Bay Rays, who routinely finish at the bottom in attendance but have strong TV ratings, regularly finishing in the top 15 of all Major League Baseball.

But when it comes to pure revenue, media rights revenue is expected to reach $US20.6 billion in 2019, compared to $US20.1 billion for ticket sales.

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