We’re not betting types. But if we were, here’s where our money would be on the coming year’s biggest sporting events:
Super Bowl: The Patriots meet the Vikings in Super Bowl LII. But even the seemingly bionic Tom Brady (and the protestations of Papa John’s Pizza) can’t keep the TV audience from dropping below 105 million, 5% off 2017’s total.
World Series: The Dodgers square off against the Cleveland Indians, as L.A.’s beleaguered investor-owners pray that their payroll—the highest in baseball, at $240 million—finally yields a trophy.
NBA: Nike super-endorser LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fight for another championship against a surprise contender, the Houston Rockets, now owned by steakhouse and casino magnate Tilman Fertitta.
Bonus prediction: E-Sports will get huge
Haven’t heard of Overwatch? You will soon. The multiplayer video game and others like League of Legends and Counter-Strike command massive audiences—enough to rival and often surpass the viewerships of traditional sporting championships. Next year, research firm Newzoo says e-sports—a $660 million industry globally in 2017—will soar 40% thanks to sponsorships, media rights, and, yes, ticket sales. Gamemaker Blizzard opened its first U.S. e-sports arena in Los Angeles this fall.