The college football season is on the brink and that means billions of ad revenue could be unclaimed as sports are upended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
College football brought in about $1.69 billion in national and spot ad revenue last year, AdWeek reported, citing Kantar Media. That amount of money could be left hanging in the balance as the Big Ten and the Pac-12 conferences postponed their seasons with others expected to follow.
“We have been working with our programming teams and our advertising partners on scenario planning for potential changes to the conferences’ planned play schedules,” a Disney spokesperson told AdWeek on Tuesday. “As those changes happen, we will ensure our partners have the opportunity to move into other sports and entertainment programming or shift their media and marketing with the conferences’ new proposed league timing.”
Disney's ABC and ESPN air college football.
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The Big Ten and Pac-12 are part of what is known as the Power 5 conferences – representing the biggest schools across the nation. The three other Power 5 schools – the SEC, ACC and Big 12 – have not announced their decisions.
Ad revenue is not the only thing expected to take a hit.
Patrick Rishe, the director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis, told ESPN in May that schools stand to lose billions.
He estimated that the schools in the Power 5 conferences could lose more than $4 billion in total in football revenues and at least $1.2 billion due to lost ticket revenue.
“Anywhere from 75 up to almost 85% of all revenues to our departments are derived directly or indirectly from football,” Oregon State athletics director Scott Barnes told ESPN in May. “Indirectly, I mean sponsorship dollars, multimedia rights, and then you've got your gate, your donations and whatnot. The impact of not playing a season is devastating. It would rock the foundation of intercollegiate athletics the way we know it. Frankly, I'm not trying to solve for that because it would be such a devastating circumstance that we'd almost have to get a whiteboard out and start over.”
Additionally, the New York Post reported that the Big Ten Conference itself could lose $1 billion in total lost revenue in the canceled season. Rutgers could stand to lose up to $50 million, NJ.com reported in July.