Liberty Media’s Chairman has expressed optimism that live spectator events will still be able to thrive in a post-COVID19 environment.
Liberty Media owns the Formula One Group, professional baseball team Atlanta Braves and SiriusXM, through which it has a majority shareholding in Live Nation Entertainment, the company that organises concerts and other major live events.
All live events for the foreseeable future have been postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with industries evaluating how gatherings can resume in the coming weeks and months.
Formula One Group’s revenues are due to plummet in 2020 due to the truncated calendar while the races that are set to take place will do so without spectators, meaning less lucrative deals have been negotiated with venues.
But speaking during a virtual stakeholder meeting the corporation’s Chairman John Malone expressed confidence that mass gatherings will still be popular and lucrative in the future.
“The original thesis of live events representing perhaps the best place to be on content for television or for digital distribution, I think remains intact,” said Malone, whose company has owned Formula 1 since 2017.
“Unfortunately we’ve had this pandemic, I personally believe that there will be a therapy and/or a vaccine sooner rather than later that will get us back closer to normal.
“There’s undoubtedly going to be a hangover in terms of valuations. And obviously like everything else if this depression in valuation is excessive, it presents opportunities for those of us who believe in the longer-term thesis that this is a good place to be.
“But I think the thesis of live events is a good one and I think there will be a health situation here.
“Human beings are gregarious by nature, and I can tell you here in Florida the bars are now open and they’re pretty packed. We’ll see.”
President and CEO Greg Maffei added that “when you look at live events, there’s no shortage of supply in terms of artists at Live Nation that want to go on tour.
“Well under 10 per cent of concert customers have asked for refunds on postponed concerts.”
He added that the majority of Braves ticket holders “knowing they could get a refund, want to hold their money and place” emphasised that “there is a demand for live events.
“The question is what we can do in the world of vaccines and therapeutics, and social distancing, to make those work for everybody involved safely.”