2020 will be remembered as the year of the global pandemic. Just like all other industries, COVID has rocked the world of sports. The NBA playoffs are delayed, the MLB season may not get started, and the NFL is moving forward with bated breath, hoping that their season will start on time.
Here are two significant ways Coronavirus has impacted the world of sports.
The Heads Up Competition Between The NBA and NFL
The NFL is the big dog of sports leagues in the USA. It’s the most popular sports league by far, and the other members of the big 4 (baseball, basketball, hockey, and football) do their best to avoid competing directly with Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL owners. In recent years, the NBA has experienced a surge in growth, mainly due to its adoption of digital mediums such as social media to appeal to a younger fan base. During the same time period, the NFL has fallen from grace due to controversy surrounding the league’s treatment of its players and its political views.
The NFL is still the most popular sport in America, but sports fans will get a little view of the battle between the NFL and the NBA when the NBA playoffs resume on July 31st. The NBA playoffs typically last two months, meaning that they are projected to end at the end of September. The NFL regular season is projected to start at the beginning of September.
For the first time, the two sports compete for viewership heads up. The NFL is the more popular sport but will be facing a tough contender in the later rounds of the NFL playoffs. The question of who will win the battle remains an interesting one. If the NBA can show that they pulled significant viewership away from NFL games, it’ll be a significant win for commissioner Adam Silver and the rest of the league.
The Rise of E-Sports
The absence of regular sports has made room for e-sports to pull in more than their usual share of viewership. Well known competitive video game, “Apex Legends,” is reporting that they saw a 2-3X increase in viewership during the first quarter of 2020.
The most popular platform on which to view e-sports is Twitch.com, owned by Amazon. Twitch saw an increase in viewing time of 60% in March of 2020. ESPN has also announced that it will broadcast the spring playoffs for e-sports top dog League of Legends. The decision shows a shift in ESPN’s business model, which traditionally doesn’t mix regular and e-sports based programming on the same channel.
The pandemic represents an opportunity for e-sports to reach a fan base beyond hardcore gamers. As regular sports open back up, they might find themselves face to face with a new competitor, e-sports.