The NFL is by far and away the most popular American sport based on television viewership ratings. Roughly 25% of the nation's 100 most-watched programs of 2019 were NFL games. Furthermore, each NFL game reels in an average of 16.5 million pairs of eyeballs.
As such, here are a few companies that could be heavily affected by the NFL's eventual decision on playing the 2020 season.
Walt Disney Co
Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) is the owner of ESPN, which the broadcasting rights for Monday Night Football. MNF is watched by roughly 13 million people per week, and the high demand among advertisers to reach these viewers generated $285 million for ESPN in 2019.
Should the NFL play a season, ESPN will benefit greatly, as well as Disney. The opposite can be said should the league decide against a 2020 season. Fortunately, a season without fans in the stands — perhaps the most likely scenario — is not an option that necessarily affects ESPN.
Per Chris Camillo of "Dumb Money Live," Disney bolsters a pretty safe prospect over the long-term future.
"When this is over, Disney is gonna come back, and I think that kinda sets a floor on Disney's price," he said on a recent episode. "We all know they're coming back."
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Disney's stock has fallen about 21%.
AT&T and Comcast
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), the owner of DirecTV, is another media organization that could be heavily affected by whether or not the NFL decides to play a season in 2020. DirecTV powers Sunday NFL Ticket, a streaming platform that allows fans to watch any NFL game at any time throughout the season (save for games that are being broadcast in the watcher's local channels).
Of course, no NFL means big problems for a product like Sunday NFL Ticket, and thus big problems for DirecTV.
According to Camillo, a lack of NFL could be the nail in the coffin for users who have been contemplating the switch from cable TV to streaming platforms.
"Here's the funny thing about AT&T and DirecTV — that (a lack of sports and the NFL) I think is just going to cause an acceleration of cord-cutting," he said. "I think that, if we start to see these deals unraveling, and we think there's a likelihood of NCAA getting canceled and maybe even the NFL...I would potentially short Comcast and AT&T pretty hard."
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, AT&T's stock has fallen 22% to $29.58 at the time of this writing.
Aramark and Cintas
Aramark (NYSE:ARMK) and Cintas Corp (NASDAQ:CTAS) are two of the leading service vendors to NFL stadiums. These companies provide food, beverage, cleaning and operational services to a number of venues.
Thus, Aramark and Cintas could be affected at a troubling clip if the upcoming NFL season is played without fans, which seems like the most probable situation. However, both of them service restaurants and schools without the country, which appear to be on a path to return to partial service by the end of 2020.
"It's not just sports. I mean, any time you do an event at these stadiums (there will be a problem)" said Jordan Mclain, another "Dumb Money Live" host. "So you're not having the concerts, you're not having the sports...these guys are gonna be in trouble without all that business."
Amarak is down over 35% since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Cintas, on the other hand, has fallen around 10% in that time.
Anheuser Busch and Molson Coors Beverage Co (NYSE:TAP)
Sports and beer go hand in hand.
One of the benefits that large, name-brand companies like Anheuser Busch Inbev NV (NYSE:BUD) experience with fans in the stands is the ability to provide one of few beverage options to fans. According to Mclain, this is a tremendous factor to think of when it comes to the potential of a 2020 NFL season without fans.
"I think at home, people have access to a wider variety of drinks, so they'll go get craft beer," he said. "But when you're at a stadium, they might have a few craft beer stands, but the majority most of the places (are selling) Bud, Coors...it's about the availability."
Anheuser Busch is down around 25% since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.