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2020 in review: May

In May, we began to see some sporting leagues resume play with limited capacities, with Germany’s Bundesliga becoming the first football league in Europe to return without fans.

The Premier League also announced its season would restart behind closed doors on June 17.

Towards the end of the month, Hungary, Poland and Russia announced they would each open their stadiums to a limited number of supporters. Other than Belarus, where football continued throughout, up until this month fans had not been able to attend league matches in Europe since the COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of events across the continent in March.

Meanwhile, France extended its ban of live events of more than 5,000 people until at least September. London’s West End and New York’s Broadway prolonged their theatre closures once again – this time setting the reopening date to June 28 and September 6, respectively.

The pandemic had caused Disney to lose an estimated $1.4bn over three months up to May due primarily to a loss of ticketing revenue from the closure of its theme parks. Later that month, the world’s largest media company raised $11bn in a new debt offering in response to the COVID-19 crisis. It took out a series of notes that are due between 2026 and 2060.

May proved to be a turbulent month for the many in the events sector, but especially for Live Nation whose summer concert season looked to be in danger.

The company furloughed 20 per cent of its employees as part of the firm’s cost-cutting measures amid the COVID-19 live events blackout. It later said that it would not return to “full scale” concerts until 2021, with the entertainment giant focusing on alternatives, such as livestreamed shows and drive-in events.

In a similar move to Disney, Live Nation announced plans to raise $1.2bn in a new debt offering. The size of the notes offering was increased from the previously announced offering size of $800m.

Meanwhile in May, US Senators called on the country’s competition watchdog to continue to monitor Live Nation’s dominance of the live events sector once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Image: Валерий Дед / CC BY 3.0 / Edited for size