TV Networks Nimble On Sports Changes, Given COVID-19 Impact

We know what TV news networks are covering these days; COVID-19 is dominating the news cycle.  Entertainment TV networks are running whatever programming is around -- mostly reruns, as well as some new programming.

But what about other types of daily information networks and/or sports networks, like ESPN?

With no live sports programming to air -- NBA basketball games, NCAA Tournament highlights, pre-season Major League Baseball, canceled -- what to do?

An ESPN release transcript of an interview with Burke Magnus, executive vice president, programming acquisitions and scheduling, says the ESPN-branded TV network group will focus on the COVID-19 issues as it affects athletes, as well as the current activity around the NFL's free agency market.

But in addition, Magnus says there will be much archival programming, “classic” games and so-called “stunt event programming” -- mini-marathons of a particular sports topic, as well as sport films.



It would seem to be easy to re-air games, but Magnus says a network would still need to make a deal with the sports leagues for that to happen.

Any effort to promote or market a professional sports league -- currently off the air -- with library content or otherwise would be a easy decision.

Tangentially, some of this is also hurting gambling sports books, which have been a growing programming source for sports TV networks, given the legalization of sports gambling in many states.

Many networks -- and leagues -- such as ESPN and Fox Sports have started sports programming content. Late last year, Fox Bet, an online and mobile sports betting service, started a partnership of Fox Sports made in wagering group The Stars Group.

All that got Bovada, an online gambling site, thinking of late: Maybe it could take bets on the weather?

For example, what will be the maximum temperature in Birmingham, Alabama, on March 19? Here the “over” -- 82 degrees -- which will pay a $220 profit for a $100 bet for the temperature at 3 p.m. ET.

Maybe The Weather Channel needs a new revenue stream?

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