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Sports Fans Are Ready To ‘Cut The Cord’ If Streaming Services Can Step Up

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at July 31, 2021

Much has been made of the fact that the majority of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is only available in the U.K. on the Discovery+ streaming platform. However, a new study has suggested that nearly three-quarters (73%) of British sports fans want it that way.

It’s a viewpoint that is shared globally. Grabyo’s 2021 Sports Video Trends Report surveyed consumers across 14 countries to determine their video viewing and purchasing habits and found that 79% would watch exclusively on an online streaming platform if they could.

The emergence of sports-specific streaming services, such as DAZN, Eleven Sports and ESPN+, in many markets has helped satisfy this demand. However, in most countries, the lion’s share of premium sports rights are still held by traditional broadcasters – albeit with streaming services that complement linear channels.

Sports streaming

For example, the U.K. market is dominated by Sky Sports and BT Sport. However, both offer mobile apps for TV and standalone subscribers, while Sky has its own streaming-only platform called NOW TV


Streaming-only services have disrupted these markets by offering a greater variety of content than what’s possible on a linear service, coupled with more flexible, cheaper subscriptions. In a media market where Netflix

and Amazon

have changed the game for films and entertainment, sports fans are increasingly accustomed to these experiences.

In 2019, 52% of global sports fans that paid for online video services were planning to ‘cut the cord’ and switch to streaming exclusively by 2024. Now, 45% of sports fans are only paying for steaming services.

However, viewers are not abandoning pay-TV just yet because they don’t feel enough content is available on streaming platforms just yet. The suggestion is that unless rightsholders ensure their events are shown on a streaming service – either in addition to or instead of linear broadcasts then they could lose audiences.

Another key insight is the role of social media. Rightsholders have long tried to strike a balance between reach and revenue. Making some content available on free-to-air (FTA)

television or on YouTube increases exposure, while a deal with a Pay-TV channel increases income.

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are increasingly important tools for enhancing reach. Almost half of all sports fans are accessing social media and 55% want to see more live content and 51% want more video highlights.

It is worth pointing out, however, that Grabyo specializes in helping broadcasters, rightsholders and other content creators edit, clip and push out online video as quickly as possible. But even taking that into account, its report offers plenty of insight for the industry.

The two key trends identified by Grabyo’s report won’t surprise anyone working in sports media, but the figures illustrate the momentum of these shifts and that there is an opportunity for sports streamers able to create a compelling product – or an existing broadcaster to branch out and offer a new service to complement existing channels.

If anything, the Olympics television rights situation demonstrates this multi-channel future. The BBC provides freely available for more casual sports fans, Eurosport delivers events via linear channels on Pay-TV, and Discovery+ offers absolutely everything for a single subscription with no obligation.

“Broadcasters and media rights holders across sport must act fast to align their video strategies with what consumers are asking for,” said Scott Lunn, Head of Content at Grabyo.

“It’s not news that consumers want streaming options, but these findings show us that over the past year, the vast majority of fans who have experienced the flexibility and lower cost of streaming services are waiting for the sports industry to catch up. The likes of DAZN across Europe and ESPN+ in the US prove that if you build it, they will come. Those who don’t will be left behind, and fans will miss out on live sport.”


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