Strict lockdowns have wreaked havoc on Australian sports in 2020, leaving our footy codes and cricket bruised and battered.

In the NRL for example, the restrictions had forced teams like the NZ Warriors team to relocate themselves out of Auckland and to Kingscliff NSW, for the three of months of the 2020 season. Strict crowd rules imposed by the government also meant that a few NRL rounds were played in empty stadiums, as talks about suspending the season altogether were being seriously considered.

Limited crowds were eventually admitted starting in May, but the damage was already done. The NRL posted a record deficit of $25 million for the full year of 2020, compared to the $30 million surplus it posted a year earlier.

Over the border, the AFL also recorded a $23 million loss for the full year, compared to the $28 million profit in 2019. The AFL season was suspended indefinitely after just one round of the 2020 season, and experts at the time were predicting losses in the hundreds of millions.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia (CA) has also been feeling the heat. The organisation had already notched up a $46 million deficit by the end of June, after several international series and tours were either postponed or abandoned. CA has predicted a mammoth $120 million in lost revenue over the coming 12 months, after posting an $18 million surplus in 2019.

Then came the Brisbane lockdown

The current Brisbane lockdown is set to disrupt the footy codes further, and wipe potential revenues.

It’s not just the Brisbane-based teams that will be affected by the latest restrictions.

NRL’s Sydney Bulldog players and staff were forced into Covid-19 quarantine after their match with the Broncos last weekend, restricting them from training and venturing out from their homes.

The lockdown could also create a major problem for the code’s Magic Round in May, where all NRL teams and players are expected to go and play in Brisbane for a three-day league fest. The Magic Round was supposed to be held in Brisbane last year, before it got cancelled.

ASX sports stocks

Despite all that’s happened, ASX sports-related stocks have done surprisingly well over the last year.

The Brisbane Broncos (ASX:BBL) stock for example, has not done too badly. Its share price has lifted by 20 per cent in the last twelve months, even after reporting a net loss of $376k on the back of a $34 million revenue that had dropped by 32 per cent.

Sport betting stocks have also done well, with Tabcorp (ASX:TAH)‘s share price rising by 88 per cent over the last year. It reported a respectable $185 million net profit in the first half, which was down 14 per cent on pcp.

Betmakers Tech (ASX:BET), a company that develops data and analytics for the wagering market, rose by a whopping 600 per cent over the same period.

But one segment that’s been waiting in the wings is the e-sports segment. While the industry was already gaining momentum prior to COVID-19, people being forced into lockdown has accelerated growth in the industry.

E-sports company, Emerge Gaming (ASX:EM1) has taken off over the past year, with its share price rocketing by 200 per cent, off the back of multiple deals to deliver esports platforms to more consumers.

For non-sports related gaming tech stocks, there are two out-performers in the market: ICandy Interactive (ASX:ICI) and MSM Corporation (ASX:MSM).

ICandy has a portfolio of mobile games, and is up 400 per cent in the last 12 months. MSM meanwhile, caters to music lovers, and its share price has surged by over 500 per cent during the same period.