Advanced Television

Research: Sports may settle streaming wars

February 23, 2024

In the battle for traditional and streaming TV subscribers, unique content is viewed as the silver bullet. But scripted originals no longer fit the bill: after years of peak TV spending, every platform has at least one. Sports, however, are still unique. If viewers want to watch the NFL, the NBA, or the Premier League, there are no substitutes and the fees for rights reflect it.

In its latest survey, What’s the Score: The Evolution of Sports Media, Hub Entertainment Research suggests access to sports does indeed strongly influence viewers’ choice of platform.

Key findings include:

1)    Sports fans care about sports more than other kinds of content.

  • Almost 80 per cent of sports fans say that during the season, content about their favourite sport is more important than other things they watch on TV. More than a third (36 per cent) say it’s much more important than other kinds of content.

2)    Sports have the power to influence which platforms viewers sign up for.

  • Across sports, 75 per cent of avid fans said they would be likely to sign up for a new streaming subscription if they needed it to watch a sport they follow.
  • Fans are more likely to follow some sports to streaming than others. But in general, 70-80 per cent of avid fans would at least consider adding a new subscription. And half of NFL, NBA, and Premier League fans say they would be “very likely” to consider signing up if they needed a new platform to watch.

3)    Shifts in sports distribution will cascade to engagement with other content.

Besides drawing their own viewers, sports content drives discovery of other content on the same platforms.

  • Nearly a third (31 per cent) often watch shows that they see promoted during a game or other sports content.
  • When watching a live game, 27 per cent often stay on the same channel to watch the show that comes on next (and another 38 per cent do so “occasionally”).
  • In short, sports content is a major tool to solve one of the most persistent problems in the era of streaming:  helping new shows cut through the clutter to find an audience.

“These findings reinforce that sports content will have a big impact on the next stage of the streaming wars, and might entirely settle them,” said Jon Giegengack, principal at Hub. “There are lots of sports fans, and they care more about the sports they follow than anything else on TV. As expensive as rights have become, they may turn out to be the best investment: hours and hours of unique content which comes with a built-in audience that tunes in every season without fail.”

Categories: Articles, Consumer Behaviour, Content, OTT, Pay TV, Research, Rights

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