Study: Live sports streaming drives subs growth
January 9, 2024
By Colin Mann
Marketing data and analytics company Kantar’s report, Game Changer: The evolution of live sports viewing in the US and Europe, which documents the evolution of live sports viewership, suggests that live sports are the key to unlocking growth in the highly fragmented streaming market. But streaming giants’ bets go beyond live action: sports-themed documentaries and dramas are here to captivate new subscribers and give them a reason to stay, says Kantar.
Key takeaways from Kantar’s Entertainment on Demand (EoD) service include:
- One in five new Video on Demand (VoD) subscribers is motivated by live sports, but sports documentaries and dramas are the key engagement drivers for retention.
- Football is the most popular sport in Great Britain, Germany, France, and Spain, contributing to 51 per cent of sports-driven VoD sign-ups.
- American football is the leading sporting influence on subscription adoption in the US, followed by football, tennis, basketball, and rugby.
- 95 per cent of sports fans in the US opt for VoD streaming, while Cable TV (pay-TV) penetration has witnessed an 8 per cent decline over two years. The quality of the commentators remains a major differentiator between services.
- European women are 41 per cent less likely to be sports fans than American women. With Wimbledon (tennis), Tour De France (Cycling), and Formula 1 as the main attractions.
- Only 10 per cent of European female sports fans are interested in the Women’s FIFA World Cup.
“Beyond live action, subscribers are looking to watch more than one competition,” advises Andrew Skerratt, Global Insight Director at Kantar. “In Britain, for example, football is king, but rugby, cricket, tennis are also part of the equation when choosing between new subscriptions. Sports documentaries and behind the scenes stories also prove to be a powerful loyalty driver, as people build more meaningful connections to their favourite (sports) stars and have one more reason to stay on the platform throughout the year. Netflix’s Formula 1 documentary Drive to Survive not only attracted F1 fans, it also expanded the sport’s viewership globally by millions. Delivering value for the household is also vital – nearly one in three households with a video streaming subscription acquired it as part of a bundle deal or promotion that offers ‘something for everyone.’”
Trend it like Beckham
Unsurprisingly, the Beckham series on Netflix reached beyond core sports fans. Only 38 per cent of viewers stated that sports was one of their top viewing preferences. Nevertheless, it became the most viewed and most enjoyed SVoD title across Britain in October 2023. One in 10 new Netflix subscribers signed up specifically to watch the series. Additionally, at a time when competition between streaming services is high, Beckham heightened subscriber advocacy for Netflix.
Unlocking new subscribers in Europe presents a strong growth opportunity.
Of the 22 million households identifying as sports fans in Europe and Britain, 12 million are not currently subscribed to any sports streaming service, with 6 million subscribing to no VoD services. Given the how fragmented is the live sports offer in the regions, European fans are willing to spend a significant amount to watch their favourite games, with the average VoD and pay-TV bill standing at €88 per month. Such level of investment, amid inflationary pressure, shows the size of the market opportunity for savvy players, concludes Kantar.