Jul 28, 2020 - Sports

Over $500 million in national TV ads at stake if baseball is canceled

An illustration of a baseball with a face mask on.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Baseball might get canceled this season, putting TV networks and pay-TV providers in a position to lose as much as $587 million in national TV ad dollars, according to a new report from iSpotTV, a TV ad measurement company.

Why it matters: These figures are on top of mounting ad losses for the television industry. EMarketer expects television ad revenue to be down $10 billion in the first half of the year, due mostly to the coronavirus.

By the numbers: Baseball was off to a hot start, both from a viewership and advertising perspective.

  • ESPN said it had its largest audience ever for the opener between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees.
  • Those ratings helped generate $27.8 million in TV ad dollars, per iSpot.

The big picture: Baseball is one of the most lucrative professional sports franchises globally. Its media rights alone cost nearly $3.6 billion, according to SportBusiness Consulting.

  • For regional and local broadcasters, the losses would be devastating. The rights for those networks were worth a combined $1.8 billion last season.

What's next: Networks and brands have to be watching closely as the most lucrative TV franchise, the National Football League, could still potentially be on hold. The NFL canceled preseason games on Monday.

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