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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The transition to streaming, the legalization of sports betting and the rise of esports have created new dynamics for the sports industry that will continue to play out next year.

The big picture: Sports betting is driving a new content industry. Betting on a sports event increases the likelihood of watching it on TV, according to a new telecommunications, media and technology report from Deloitte.

  • Media companies are already looking for ways to create content that will satisfy sports gambling fans. CBS launched its first-ever sports gambling show on its streaming platform earlier this year. The Action Network, a subscription service for sports betters, made waves last month when it signed ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell.
  • Non-media companies, like DraftKings and FanDuel, are beginning to integrate more live and on-demand media content into their betting experiences.
  • "You're also likely to see an increase in esports betting and content," says Jeff Loucks, the executive director of Deloitte’s Center for Technology, Media and Telecommunications.

Leagues are expanding, and getting choosier. Sports leagues that have traditionally distributed their content to pay-TV providers are thinking more strategically about licensing their content to digital streamers where it will eventually get wider mass distribution.

  • The New York Post reported Monday that MLB is considering giving individual teams streaming rights. Many teams, as the Post's Josh Kosman points out, already have stakes in their own regional sports networks, which makes this dynamic complicated.
  • The NFL has led the charge in licensing its Thursday night games exclusively to Twitter last year and then Amazon this year and again next year. To accommodate the needs of die-hard fantasy sports fans, two new football leagues are expected to debut in the next two years — the Alliance of American Football and the XFL, per the Washington Post.

Regional sports networks are losing value: As it turns out, Fox may not be getting the types of bids it wants for its 22 regional sports networks that it has to divest as a part of its deal with Disney.

  • The high cost of RSNs distorts the value of the traditional cable bundle, writes BTIG Media Analyst Rich Greenfield. "If anyone buys the channels beyond a large network owner such as Fox, the RSNs will almost undoubtedly be tiered – great for consumers, but devastating to the new RSN owner," which needs to maintain maximum distribution.

Football is keeping the lights on: Despite weak November ratings for cable and broadcast networks last month, NFL ratings continue to grow, according to research firm MoffettNathanson.

  • Ratings are up 5% so far this season as of last week, particularly on Sundays. This may be due in part, according to the firm, because news network ratings have been down in the -10% to -20% range for the better part of this year.

Go deeper: The high-stakes game for sports betting dollars

Go deeper

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp."

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.

Trump pardons former GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy

President Trump has pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty late last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a campaign to sway the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.

Why it matters: Broidy was a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee early in Trump’s presidency, and attempted to leverage his influence in the Trump administration on behalf of his clients. The president's decision to pardon Broidy represents one last favor for a prominent political ally.