Report: Only 17% of Viewers Prefer Broadcast TV to Streaming Apps for Sports; How Many Users Are Streaming March Madness?
As the pay-TV ecosystem continues to collapse, it has been well-documented that streaming services aren’t quite ready to pick up the slack completely when it comes to live sports. Streamers are not yet the preferred destination for sports fans, but that is changing, according to a new report from LG.
The report shows that only 17% of American sports watchers prefer to use broadcast TV to stream live sports. Fully half of the participants in LG’s survey stated they preferred to watch via a sports TV streaming app, and 33% said they had no real preference either way.
Still, the data from LG shows that preference does not always match reality. For all of the major sports on TV, users are still watching via traditional linear broadcasts more often than using streaming apps. Hockey and soccer streaming viewers are now within five percentage points of their TV-watching counterparts, but other sports like football are still viewed on TV more often by margins of 10-plus points.
It makes sense that sports like football, basketball and baseball are still more frequently viewed on TV. After all, the NFL, NBA and MLB all have expensive broadcast deals with various TV networks in place, and while each league is working to expand its streaming presence, linear telecasts are still the most easily accessible way to watch their games.
The survey from LG also has some interesting data regarding this year’s NCAA March Madness tournament, which starts Thursday, March 16. It shows that 74% of American consumers plan to watch the Men’s basketball tournament this year, a rise of nine percentage points over 2022. The data also shows that 55% are planning to watch at least one game of March Madness via a streaming app like Sling TV or Paramount+.
That’s especially fascinating because it directly contradicts a survey done by Civic Science last week. That report showed that only 20% of viewers planned to watch March Madness via a streaming service. So how is it possible to square these two seemingly disparate data points?
For one thing, it’s entirely possible that LG and Civic Science just surveyed distinctly different audience segments. But these types of surveys usually try to reflect income levels and other demographic points of average audiences, so it’s not likely that the respondents to LG and Civic Science were all that different from each other.
Another explanation may lie in the specific question that users were asked by the two sources. LG’s survey specifies that users would watch one game or more on a streaming service, while Civic Science’s question encompasses the entire tournament. It’s quite possible that Civic Science’s respondents were only told to say they’d be streaming March Madness if they planned to use a streamer to watch the entire tournament.
None of this data is to suggest that streaming is now entirely ready to take the baton from broadcast TV. But streaming is gaining on linear TV as a preferred method for watching live sports, and more users than ever before will enjoy at least one March Madness game via streaming in 2023, according to LG.