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Study: Sports Dominate Livestreamed Content Across Demographics

Matt Tamanini

For decades, live sports have been the bedrock of traditional television broadcasting, and one of the main reasons that many people have avoided cutting the cord to this day. However, as the industry continues to move more and more into the world of streaming, those same live sports that kept people tethered to their cable and satellite subscriptions for so long have now become bell cows for streamers.

According to a new study from Parks Associates, live sports are running away as the most dominant form of livestreamed content. The study shows that of the 43% of domestic homes that have streamed any form of live content in the past three months, 61% have watched a live sporting event of some kind.

That number dwarfs the second most popular category of live newscasts, which came in at 36%, with live concerts coming in third at 30%. Awards shows were a close fourth, followed by eSports competitions in fifth.

“Right now, sports content is key to drawing and keeping an engaged livestream viewer base,” Parks Associates director of research Paul Erickson said. “Even with content that benefits from live consumption – such as news and concerts – significantly fewer consumers are livestreaming this content compared to sports. The sports audience is significantly more engaged in livestreaming as a whole.”

Erickson continued that by offering livestream options, especially for sports fans, is a way that services can bridge the gap between streamers and consumers who are more comfortable with a traditional TV experience.

“Consumers in the higher age brackets can be difficult to target,” he said, “but livestreaming is one option that appeals to them, provided the provider delivers the right content.”

Because live sports inspire regular appointment viewing, they can be incredibly valuable for subscription services, be they traditional or streaming platforms. The Parks Associate study shows that of customers who have subscribed to an over-the-top (OTT) sports service — any service that allows viewers to watch content via the internet, like MLB.TV, ESPN+, etc. — 78% have livestreamed a sporting event, while just 25% of customers who do not subscribe to an OTT sports service have done so.

Nearly every major streaming service has begun investing in live sports. This season both Apple TV+ and Peacock have begun streaming Major League Baseball games, while Apple and Amazon Prime Video are reportedly battling to land the NFL Sunday Ticket package beginning in 2023.

HBO Max already has NHL streaming rights (though they haven’t exercised them yet) and will soon broadcast U.S. Men's and Women's Soccer Team matches.

While Netflix has stated that they were going to focus on video games instead of live sports, we have seen the company reverse course on many long-held stances recently, so never say never with the suddenly unsteady streaming giant.

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