ESPN has $400M in college football playoff ads at risk from COVID

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The national spike in COVID-19 cases imperils as much as $400 million in college football playoff advertising for Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN sports network because of the growing risk games might be canceled, Bloomberg Intelligence estimated in a note Tuesday.

Several bowl games have already been called off, including the Holiday, Hawaii, Military and Fenway bowls, because of the surging caseloads.

Postseason college football brings in $350 million to $400 million annually for ESPN, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Geetha Ranganathan estimated, citing Kantar Media. Revenue grew about 8% annually from 2013 to 2018.

The TV industry is also grappling with a loss of viewers to streaming services. Last year’s NCAA football championship game saw audience ratings decline by 27%.

Representatives for ESPN didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

ESPN generates about $12 billion in annual sales for Disney and about $4.3 billion in annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, Bloomberg Intelligence said.

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