Sports around the world have been on hiatus only since mid-March, but when the numbers are crunched, the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the industry will be felt for years to come. Only 53% of the major sports events originally scheduled for 2020 are likely to take place this calendar year.
That means, according to new projections from Two Circles, a sports marketing agency, just 26,424 sporting events will be held by the end of 2020 — with the possibility that more are canceled as the virus spreads. There were approximately 48,803 major sports events — ticketed events for professional and competitive sports with a projected attendance of at least 5,000 — scheduled in 2020.
Because of the sudden and ongoing interruption to live sports, the global sports industry will generate just $73.7 billion in revenue in 2020. That’s $61.6 billion less than the projected revenue before the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the global sports industry generated $129 billion in revenue and was anticipating a growth in the industry by 4.9% year-on-year.
The revenue projections, according to Two Circles, is cumulative revenue generated by professional sports rights-owners through their event-day businesses and the sale of media and sponsorship rights.
“Compared to most other industries, in recent times of economic adversity sports has proven to be recession-resilient. Whilst live sports is halted, every corner of the sports industry will continue to feel this significant financial pain, but we are certain that it returns, whether that’s behind-closed-doors or with full houses, sports’ economy will thrive once again,” Gareth Balch, Two Circles CEO, said in a statement.
There is some hope that sports will be back in some capacity soon.
The Bundesliga in Germany hopes to begin soccer events in May, for example, though without fans in attendance. Other countries, like South Korea and Australia, have been mulling the return of sports without fans as their numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases continue to drop.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert and one of the faces of America’s fight against the coronavirus, said last week that the only way professional sports will happen in summer 2020 is by holding events without fans and by having players stay in hotels.
Fauci’s comments came a week after 72% of Americans polled by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business said they would not attend if sporting events resumed without a vaccine for the coronavirus available. Just 13% of Americans said they would feel comfortable attending games the way they had in the past.
Two Circles works directly with more than 300 sports organizations worldwide, including the Premier League, Ligue de Football Professionnel and Wimbledon.