TV in 'Uncharted Territory' as Networks Navigate Ad Sales Fallout of Sports Cancellations

March Madness, NBA and MLB losses leave networks scrambling

In the space of one day, every major sports league in the U.S. suspended operations for at least the next several weeks in response to the growing spread of the novel coronavirus.

The rapid cancellations, which began Wednesday night and stretched into Thursday, have left networks and marketers reeling, scrambling to determine what happens to their sports-related TV ad buys. “We’re in uncharted territory,” one TV ad sales exec told Adweek.

The National Basketball Association suspended play until further notice Wednesday, and the other leagues followed suit on Thursday: The National Hockey League and Major League Soccer also paused their seasons indefinitely, while Major League Baseball canceled spring training games and said it would delay the start of the season by at least two weeks.



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