For a long time, sports were one thing that kept a lot of people from getting rid of traditional pay-TV subscriptions. Until relatively recently, it was much easier to follow sports and watch teams if one still had easy access to broadcast and cable channels.
However, that has begun to change of late, with most national and local TV deals for sports now having some sort of streaming component. ESPN+ is an additive service to the linear channels from the worldwide leader in sports and Bally Sports+ has launched a regional, direct-to-consumer service in some cities, while everything from football to baseball to soccer has put their games on streaming services. A new study shows just how far the needle has moved.
According to a CivicScience survey of 3,000 U.S. adults who use a sports streaming service, nearly three quarters — 73% — ”have cut the cord on cable or satellite television,” a much higher number than among those who “don’t use or are uninterested in sports streaming services.”
However, the market for sports streaming services remains relatively small. The Bally Sports+ product only launched a few weeks ago, and only in a few markets, while other sports-specific streaming services, like MLB.TV, DAZN, and the streaming version of NBA League Pass are relatively niche.
According to the survey, “only 6% of survey respondents stated that they are using a sports streaming subscription and like using it, while 5% said that although they use one, they might not keep it.”
While these totals are low, they do not include customers who have ended traditional TV subscriptions, but signed up for a live TV streaming service like YouTube TV, fuboTV, or Hulu Live TV in order to keep connected to their favorite teams.
The cord-cutting trend, CivicScience found, continues to march on, among sports fans and non-fans alike.
“Sports-watching may be a driving reason for cord-cutting, although it’s evident that even those uninterested in sports streaming services are still turning toward other streaming platforms over satellite and cable services,” CivicScience said.
The survey also found that those who follow some major league sports are more likely to use sports streaming subscriptions, as opposed to college and high school sports fans. Among fans of individual professional sports, 33% of Major League Soccer fans say that they use a sports-specific streaming service, a number likely to rise since Apple will launch a service that will be the home of every MLS game for a decade. That’s also true of 27% of NBA fans, 26% of NHL fans, 16% of NFL fans, 13% of PGA fans, and 7% of NASCAR fans. Those numbers are 18% for college football fans, although it’s 27% for high school sports fans.
For women’s sports, the numbers are 34% for WNBA, 27% for women’s college basketball, and 24% for women’s UFC.
As for age, perhaps unsurprisingly, 31% of 18-to-24-year-olds are using a sports streaming service, a number that goes down to 17% for 25-to-34-year-olds, 7% for 35-to-54-year-olds, and 5% for those 55 and older.
While streaming appears to be a major part of the future of sports consumption, the services focused specifically on sports have some considerable ground to make up.