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Data: Sport remains main UK subs driver

June 30, 2023

Consumer insights provider Toluna has revealed key sports viewership findings from its latest UK consumer study, Economic Outlook for Technology, Media, Telecoms, and Entertainment Sector, which explores the impact of the current economic turbulence on consumer behaviours and spending in the technology, media, telecoms, and entertainment sectors. Its deep dive into sports viewership uncovered resilient levels of consumer spending that bucked wider viewing trends.

Over eight in 10 sports viewers plan to spend the same or more on watching sports content in the year ahead. Monthly subscriptions are the preferred form of payment for 58 per cent of sports viewers, driven by respondents aged 18-34 (78 per cent). This trend is happening against a backdrop of consumers minimising their monthly outgoings on paid-for content. One-third of UK consumers, for instance, are reducing their spend on subscription-based video-on-demand services due to the cost-of-living crisis, with respondents aged 18-34 being the most likely to do so (47 per cent). However, sports viewers remain willing to spend on watching games and events, particularly younger demographics.

Consumer expenditure on sports viewership has also shifted slightly in the past 12 months, with spend on watching sports via video-on-demand services increasing by 2 per cent and spend on satellite TV dipping by 4 per cent. An almost equal proportion of sports viewers use video-on-demand services (57 per cent) and satellite TV services (60 per cent) to watch sports at least once a month. Additionally, the average sports viewer currently spends £270 per year to watch sports content on TV or online.

Sports fans expect to spend less on watching live sporting events in person this year compared to last year, with expenditure on this predicted to drop 12 per cent. Furthermore, 27 per cent of UK consumers who attend events in person believe they will go to fewer games or matches in the coming year, driven by women and respondents aged 35+. This is compared to 56 per cent of sports fans who plan to attend the same amount of events and 17 per cent who plan to watch more events in person.

“Accessing sports content ranks high on UK consumers’ leader board of priorities, as evidenced by their willingness to spend on viewership, even while two-thirds believe they are financially worse off than they were a year ago,” commented Denholm Scotford, Sector Head, TMTE at Harris Interactive, Toluna’s research arm. “Sport continues to be a cultural cornerstone, allowing brands to engage with consumers through content and events which truly matter to them. Interestingly, the study found that consumers regard women’s sporting events as “progressive” and “respectful”, while men’s events are seen as “relatable” and “cool”. Brands should take this into consideration when connecting with sports viewers during upcoming events such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Wimbledon, and Tour de France Femmes.”

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