Sports May Have To Carry Fall TV

Major League Baseball returned last night to TV screens -- but how much will it and other sports mean for TV this fall?

TV ratings for baseball and other sports will be eyed closely.

More than a number of reports suggest national/local TV advertising for Major League Baseball has been sold well as it enters a modified 60-game shortened season

All this is drastically down from a regular 162-game season. So the end result will be far lower advertising revenues this year. Still, we imagine unit pricing/cost per thousand viewers have seen a sharp rise -- at least double-digit percentage gains.

Last year, Major League Baseball pulled in $583.8 million from national TV advertising -- $196.3 million for the regular-season games and $387.5 million for the post-season, per Kantar Media.



Looking forward: How much pressure are we putting on sports TV programming overall to save the day for TV this fall -- especially if there is little in the way of new entertainment programming -- scripted, unscripted of otherwise.

Big sports TV will be ready to due its part -- with NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and NHL all jamming for attention at the same time. NASCAR and PGA golf have already been on the air with modest results.

Laura Martin, senior analyst from Needham & Co., says the return of sports could impact what it might mean for TV streaming services.

"Streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Apple+ etc. that benefited from live sports being dark have the most risk to their U.S. reported sub adds during the second half,” she writes.

Further, Martin believes the successful return of live sports will mean record ratings in the second half of 2020. Another side benefit: Traditional pay TV platforms -- cable, satellite, telco, and/or virtual -- will get a bump up in subscribers.

Apart from sports, there is another wrinkle for new streamers: Come November/December -- with or without all the sports coming online -- Disney+, Apple TV+, and others will be subjected to possible subscriber declines, due to expiring free year-long promotions.

All this has the annual $150 billion pay TV platforms business on the line -- not just the $70 billion in total TV advertising.

So sports TV will giveth as well as taketh away -- just like a good, closely fought baseball game. 

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