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Let the Games – and the Exports – Begin!

March 21, 2013

Chris Higginbotham is a Communications Specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

Chris's Final Four is the University of North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio State and Louisville. He has UNC beating Louisville in the final. Notable upsets include UNC beating Kansas, Florida and Indiana; Wichita State knocking off Gonzaga and Creighton making the Elite 8. He has Duke losing to Creighton in the second round, but a UNC alumnus predicting a Duke loss is hardly notable.

As a UNC alumnus, Chris Higginbotham showed a bias toward the Tar Heels in his bracket.

Well, we all had a couple of days to fill out our brackets. Now the men’s NCAA Tournament games have officially begun and the women’s games are soon to follow. You may have been watching as your brackets were already busted in the First Four games (like mine), or you might be four for four at this point.

One thing we can rely on is that millions of sports fans will be glued to the TV during the next couple of weeks to cheer on alma maters, rivals, and cinderellas. CBS estimates that 21 million sports fans watched last year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game.

On top of those 21 million viewers in the United States were viewers watching licensed broadcasts of the game overseas. That’s not just true for basketball; American sporting events from the Super Bowl to tennis tournaments, golf and auto racing are licensed overseas. And those licensing agreements are considered exports.

Based on the most recent data available, licensing for broadcasting and recording of live events totaled $675 million in 2011. That includes more than just sports; that also counts live entertainment events in other fields, like the Oscars. It counts licenses for both TV and radio. The largest market for these exports in 2011 was Japan, at $57 million.

Sports contribute to exports in other ways than just broadcast licenses; sports and performing arts are a significant part of America’s strong service industry (which achieved record exports in 2012). Exports in sports and performing arts totaled $893 million in 2011. This category includes services in the production, promotion, and organization of live entertainers including athletes, singers, and dancers.

Combining the above figures shows that the entertainment aspect of sports and entertainment events like the NCAA Tournament contributed to more than $1.5 billion in exports in 2011. Those exports continue to support thousands of jobs; it’s now estimated that every billion dollars in exports supports 4,926 jobs in the United States.

So remember, when you watch the NCAA Tournament – or any American sports or entertainment event – you’re supporting American exports and jobs.

I wouldn’t recommend using that justification if your boss catches you watching games at work this week though.

Keep checking back here as we continue to show how events like March Madness help support American exports. Enjoy the games!

(note: the data behind this post can be found from the Bureau of Economic Analysis tables 1 and 4)

(This article was edited on March 22 to clarify that the $1.5 billion figure represents the sum of broadcast licensing export figures and sports and performing arts figures)

One comment

  1. Wow never realised so many viewers! unbelievable some great stats you have in there. $1.5 Billion? I thought it would have resulted in more revenue. haha I always watch sports at work, the quick alt tab trick works a treat!



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