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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Without live sports for the foreseeable future, it's unclear what networks like ESPN and FS1 will broadcast in those time slots or what they'll talk about on their studio shows and radio programs during the day.

Why it matters: With so many Americans nesting at home, linear TV viewership was expected to spike. But without sports, streaming platforms, video games and other mediums will likely be the big winners instead.

The big picture: A prolonged sports outage could lead to an acceleration in cord-cutting, while also wreaking havoc on the advertising industry.

"One of the only reasons to advertise on TV in 2020 is sports. If sports aren't being played, that's going to be a huge issue for the ad market that could literally lead to a tailspin."
— Rich Greenfield, media analyst at LightShed Partners

Between the lines: Given the fluidity of the situation, there are many advertising-related questions that have yet to be answered.

  • What happens to the ad revenue that has already been booked? Do the networks give that money back?
  • If the NBA and NHL playoffs air, it will help networks make up for missing regular-season games, but what if the playoffs don't happen? Then what?

For reference: Last season, regular season broadcasts accounted for 38% of the NBA's total TV ad revenue, while postseason games accounted for 62%. The NHL had similar numbers.

The state of play: ESPN was unable to comment on what their programming will look like without live sports, but here's what was shown on their airwaves yesterday:

  • ESPN: SportsCenter all day and night
  • ESPNEWS: Video simulcasts of radio shows and taped programming
  • ESPN2: Simulcast of ESPN and ESPNEWS

The bottom line, per Greenfield: "Think about the TV ecosystem as a huge Jenga game, which is already under extreme stress. The last piece holding up the whole thing is sports, and in the last 24 hours, you've pulled that piece out for an unknown amount of time."

Go deeper

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker