Feb 2, 2019 - Sports

Deep Dive: The coming sports boom

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

26 million Americans will bet on Super Bowl LIV

Prop bets at Bally's Atlantic City Hotel and Casino. Photo: Wayne Parry/AP

With sports betting now legal in 14 states, the American Gaming Association estimates $6.8 billion will be bet legally and illegally on Sunday's Super Bowl between the S.F. 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, AP's Wayne Parry reports.

The state of play: 26 million Americans plan to make a bet, up 15% from last year, per the AGA.

Go deeperArrowJan 31, 2020 - Sports

Kansas City Chiefs hold narrow lead in Super Bowl betting odds

The Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes celebrates a touchdown pass during yesterday's 35-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship. Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP

Early Super Bowl LIV odds have the Kansas City Chiefs as 1.5-point favorites over the San Francisco 49ers.

The state of play : Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes (KC) vs. Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) — opened last night as a pick 'em at many Las Vegas sports books, AP reports.

Go deeperArrowJan 20, 2020

League of Legends Championship Series to debut Monday night matchup

Photo: Borja B. Hojas/Getty Images

Taking a page out of the NFL's playbook, the League of Legends Championship Series — one of a handful of esports leagues built around popular game titles — will air a marquee matchup every Monday night this season.

What's happening: "Monday Night League" will start at 8pm ET and will be broadcast on the league's website, as well as YouTube and Twitch.

Go deeperArrowJan 9, 2020