TEXT-Fitch: NFL, NBA and MLB roll positively into 2013, NHL faces uncertainty
Link to Fitch Ratings' Report: 2013 Outlook: SportsDec 14 - Collective bargaining agreements, stable aggregate game-day attendance, viewership trends, and robust national and local television contracts in the NBA, NFL, and MLB underscore stability in rated league-wide borrowing programs moving into 2013 and through the medium term, according to a Fitch Ratings report. Further, ongoing collective bargaining between the National Hockey League (NHL) and the NHL Players' Association adds risk to Fitch's facility ratings, broadcast rights fees, and the league's overall brand value. Most arena ratings retain flexibility in the short term despite the NHL lockout from reserves and other anchor tenants. However, another full-season lockout amidst a more uncertain climate than in 2005 after the last full-season lockout will affect financial flexibility, and Fitch will continue to monitor arena performance and fan willingness to pay once NHL teams return to the ice. All arena ratings would experience rating pressure in the unlikely event that the lockout persists into next season. Going forward, the maintenance of a Stable Outlook in the sports sector depends on successful renewals of key facility revenues, particularly seating products and sponsorship agreements. These contracts will face pricing pressure given the continued uncertain economic conditions and amidst natural fluctuations in team performance. Continued focus must also remain on digital, wireless, audio, and video improvements to sports facilities as the multimedia fan experience at home continues to modernize. Fitch believes sports-related ratings have demonstrated their ability to withstand economic downturns and continues to believe that they retain financial flexibility to manage the uncertainties facing the sports industry in 2013 and over the next few years. The report, '2013 Outlook: Sports,' is available at 'www.fitchratings.com' or by clicking on the above link. Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.
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