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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facing shrinking stadium attendance and cord-cutting at home, sports leagues and networks are clamoring to get ahead of new revenue-rich opportunities.

What to watch: Esports, despite still being in its infancy, is exploding in terms of both revenue and audience. The legalization of sports betting could cause the sports market to balloon by tens of billions of dollars, driving an entirely new content industry.

During tomorrow's Super Bowl, more than 100 million of us will do something that's becoming rarer in the era of streaming and smartphones: We'll watch a live event — together — with friends and family.

  • In an on-demand world, live sports like this weekend's Super Bowl 53 are unique in commanding eyeballs and ad dollars.

But there's already a certain nostalgia to the day.

  • Despite rising rights revenues, almost every sport except professional football (for now) is experiencing viewership declines.
  • Even live sport event attendance has leveled off. Despite league expansion and the new facilities, weaker demand has driven down ticket prices, per PwC's 2018 Sports Market Outlook.
  • And sports leagues are cutting back on game time to meet young sports fans' demands for faster entertainment experiences on TV and online.

The big picture: The global esports economy was estimated to reach nearly $1 billion in 2018 and is expected to nearly double by 2021, thanks in part to the incredible success of games like Overwatch and Fortnite.

  • Traditional teams are striking partnerships with esports teams.
  • Brands are scrambling to sponsor esports competitions and content that's being evangelized by young athletes.
  • Media companies are also launching gambling shows and platforms.
  • And sports betting companies are leveraging data and partnering with leagues to integrate more live and on-demand media content into their betting experiences.

The bottom line: The sports industry is booming. But the ways people experience, consume and engage with the game are changing faster than ever.

Go deeper: Read the full special report

Go deeper

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.

The quick FCC fix that would get more students online

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the pandemic forces students out of school, broadband deployment programs aren't going to move fast enough to help families in immediate need of better internet access. But Democrats at the Federal Communications Commission say the incoming Biden administration could put a dent in that digital divide with one fast policy change.

State of play: An existing FCC program known as E-rate provides up to $4 billion for broadband at schools, but Republican FCC chairman Ajit Pai has resisted modifying the program during the pandemic to provide help connecting students at home.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

America's hidden depression

Biden introduces his pick for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, on Dec. 1. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Biden faces a fragile recovery that could easily fall apart, as the economy remains in worse shape than most people think.

Why it matters: There is a recovery happening. But it's helping some people immensely and others not at all. And it's that second part that poses a massive risk to the Biden-Harris administration's chance of success.