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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

July is typically a quiet month for American sports. The kind of quiet that leads to routine double-plays making SportsCenter's "Top 10," and saw July get just 0.5% of votes in our pre-coronavirus "best sports month" poll (poor August got 0%).

The state of play: For Hollywood, it's quite the opposite. Studies suggest we're more likely to go to movies when the weather is warm and kids are out of school, so July is one of the biggest box-office months and a prime blockbuster release window.

Enter the pandemic: Suddenly, July is the most important month of the year for American sports. The NWSL is already back, and six more leagues — including three of the big four — will soon be joining them.

  • July 8: MLS resumes (Disney World)
  • July 23/24: MLB starts (home ballparks)
  • July 24: WNBA starts (IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.)
  • July 25: PLL starts (Salt Lake City)
  • July 30: NBA resumes (Disney World)
  • July 30: NHL resumes (two host cities, TBD)

Meanwhile, Hollywood has delayed the releases of its summer blockbusters, most movie theaters are closed, and studios have largely halted production.

  • All hope of salvaging the summer season effectively ended this week when the releases of Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" and Disney's live-action reboot of "Mulan" were both delayed again, this time to mid-August.

The big picture: While Netflix and other streamers have rushed to fill the void, the broadcast TV industry has been anxiously awaiting the return of live sports, which should add some much-needed juice to their lineups.

  • For decades, broadcast networks have followed the same programming calendar. Pilots are ordered in January and filmed in March, ads are sold in May (called "upfronts"), and it culminates in a fall programming lineup — just in time for car companies to promote their new fall lineups.
  • But this year, the pandemic has halted production and delayed the fall premiere season, making live sports one of the few things that networks can use to fill primetime broadcast schedules through the end of the year.

The bottom line: Don't be surprised when NBC, Fox and others become de facto sports networks this summer and fall. And don't be surprised when "Tenet" and "Mulan" get delayed again.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Regal Cinemas to temporarily close all 663 of its theaters in the U.S. and U.K.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

British movie exhibitor Cineworld, the parent company to Regal Cinemas, said on Monday that it would temporarily close all 663 of its movie theaters in the United States and the U.K.

Why it matters: Theater chains have struggled to survive the economic fallout of the coronavirus. Some analysts have argued that the pandemic could become the death knell to the theater industry.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 6, 2020 - Sports

Sports betting apps still have low awareness

Reproduced from CivicScience; Chart: Axios Visuals

Sports betting stocks have been some of the best performers on the market this year, with DraftKings shares up 466% and Barstool Sports-backed Penn National up 176%.

The state of play: A new survey from CivicScience, provided first to Axios, shows sports betting likely has a great deal of growth potential. But much of that may be baked into already-lofty shares prices.

1 hour ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.