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According to research from Parks Associates, 16 per cent of US broadband households have a sports OTT video service subscription. Although it does not stream live games, NFL Game Pass is the most highly adopted service, with 6 per cent of U.S. broadband households having a subscription compared to 4 per cent for the WWE Network and MLB.TV.
“For sports content owners, OTT is a viable way to expand audience reach, but there are technical issues to consider,” said Glenn Hower, Research Analyst, Parks Associates. “The user experience is of paramount importance to the viewer for sports content. The lead established by the NFL speaks to popularity of football, and the league’s service has avoided a major hurdle since it does not stream live games.”
The research – Subscriptions and Churn in OTT Video Services – also indicates the crossover between pay-TV and OTT is more prevalent among sports service subscribers than other OTT users. In most cases, the highest proportions of consumers indicate signing up for their sports services through a TV service provider, with 63 per cent of NFL Game Pass users signing up through their pay-TV provider.
“Leagues lean heavily on television distribution partners for revenue, and disruption to existing distribution models may give television partners pause,” Hower said. “A rapid expansion in sports OTT growth requires either heavy external investment from a streaming distribution partner – like a Google or Apple – or a tiered business model that targets key consumers for all-access services.”
TBS recently joined the OTT world by revealing plans to launch its own eSports league. Turner Broadcasting has already signed a deal to broadcast live showdowns of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, which will air on Friday nights. Qualifying rounds for the main events will be streamed online, and advancing competitors will travel to TBS headquarters in Atlanta for a live recording.