How has the pandemic affected sports events?

How has the pandemic affected sports events?

The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the world with significant deaths, and lockdowns that have affected everyone’s lives and mental health. All businesses alike have been greatly affected by the restrictions, and sports is no exception. Now that restrictions are starting to ease, sports events are resuming and sports bars are starting to accept booking for these live sports events. The Cornershop Bar, a Shoreditch Club, will be playing live football matches like the Euro 2021 and already started accepting bookings.

Sports as an industry is not just something enjoyed by fans worldwide, it is also a business. The business model has three main points; broadcasting, commercial partnerships, and matchday revenue. The first and most obvious hit to the business during the pandemic is the loss of all match day revenue. At the beginning of the pandemic all sports had to be postponed or canceled, for example, football leagues worldwide, Wimbledon, and the Olympics. Even more recently, with matches allowed to go ahead, there are no fans present which still means no matchday revenue.

However, in the eventual return to somewhat normality, it is predicted that match days will see an influx in fans that will offset this loss slightly. Secondly, broadcasting income has greatly decreased for many sports, with no matches to show even for a temporary period, the leagues are unable to meet their commitments to their broadcasting partners and therefore their ability to distribute income back to the jobs is significantly limited.

The pandemic has greatly increased the publics’ media consumption, with many people stuck in their homes, so broadcasters needed to fill the gap of these matches. To engage customers, many broadcasters showed classic games, archived content, documentaries, and some esports such as the virtual grand national. The increase in media consumption was not the only change for broadcasters, there was also no longer a prime time when people returned home from work. This in turn increased the demand for streaming services, which have no fixed times and large libraries of content.

Amazon has shown this, with a 35% subscriber increase that coincided with their first streaming of the Premier league. The NBA and Turner sports also removed their paywall and opted for streaming services to increase viewership. It is possible that viewers that have enjoyed streaming during the pandemic will continue to watch this way after the pandemic due to the convenience, possibly even with the return of paywalls, so sports may see a shift to this rather than traditional broadcasting.

This, however, will reduce the advertising income of broadcasters and reduce their ability to buy sports rights. Although the main impact of the pandemic on the sports industry has been income, there may also be some longer-term impacts. One example is aspiring or training sportsmen, with many gyms, clubs, pools, etc being closed for a long period of time, training will have been set back for many people which will show a decrease in competition for professional jobs in the future.

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