Global sports economy will take a $60 billion hit from the coronavirus

The “unprecedented” impact of the global coronavirus outbreak on the sports industry will be felt throughout the year, a sports data analytics company told CNBC this week.

Mass gatherings including live sporting events have been canceled and postponed since March in an attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed at least 302,468 people and sickened more than 4.4 million worldwide.

“That impact will be felt across the year with an estimated downturn of probably between 50% and 60% on the global sports economy,” said David Lampitt, managing director of sports partnerships at Sportradar.

“That’s a hit of probably $60 billion globally,” he told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Friday.

While matches can’t be watched in person for now, there’s still “huge pent-up desire” for live sports, he said. “There’s pent-up demand from the last two months of just, the lack of action.”

Gradual return of live sports

Cardboard cut-outs of fans of Bundesliga club Borussia Moenchengladbach fill their stadium on May 14, 2020 in Moenchengladbach, Germany.

Christian Verheyen | Borussia Moenchengladbach | Getty Images

Now, fans can tune in online as games gradually restart in empty stadiums. Germany’s Bundesliga will resume this weekend, while South Korea’s K League started holding matches last week. 

“I think initially … we’ll see some incredible viewing figures,” Lampitt said. “That’s something that we’ve seen with the K League.”

Content from the league has been distributed in 37 countries, which was not expected, he said, adding that there has been “extraordinary demand” across Europe, China and Australasia.

Other major sports leagues still hang in the balance for now, but Lampitt predicts an “oversupply of live content” in the third and fourth quarters of 2020, though he acknowledges that is subject to how the virus situation plays out.

“There will be a … huge supply of live sport compressed into that second half of the year,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how all of those sporting events compete with one another at that point.”

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