Sports Fans More Likely To Consume Smartphone Content But Pay-TV Still Popular

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More sports fans watch content on their content on their smartphone than their television despite a preference for large screen viewing, a study has found.

Grabyo’s OTT Video Trends Report 2019 examined the viewing preferences of consumers in seven countries and found that 53% watch sport regularly and 45% watch sport more than any other form of content. It considered this group to be “sports fanatics”.

The growing popularity of OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime has had a major impact on viewing habits for movies and TV series, while the likes of HBO, Disney and others have also launched streaming services.

Rise of streaming

However because the vast majority of premium sports rights are held by traditional broadcasters and because sports fans want to watch on as big a screen as possible, often with other people, sport had been considered more immune to ‘cord-cutting’.

The survey found more than half (54%) of sports fanatics had a Pay-TV subscription while 46% pay for an OTT service of any type. However, there are also indications that viewing habits are changing.

Nearly two thirds (65%) of sports fans watch video on their smartphone and 53% watch on a PC. This compares to 43% of those that watch on their television. Smart TV and streaming devices, such as Google Chromecast and Apple TV, accounts for 38% of viewing.

The figures from Grabyo suggest that although sport is still a major driver of Pay-TV subscriptions, many fans are choosing to watch on applications like Sky Go or through dedicated OTT services.

Several specialist OTT platforms such as DAZN and Eurosport Player have launched in Europe in recent years, while major sports leagues in the U.S. have long offered streaming options. Several other sports and federations have gone direct-to-consumer (D2C) as seen by the availability of F1 TV and GolfTV.

Social media is becoming more influential as well. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have all entered into partnerships with major organizations and rightsholders. Some of these deals are global while others are targeted at certain markets and include a mixture of live content, highlights and additional clips. The report found that 25% of sports fans watch on social media more than on Pay TV, while one in five sports ‘fanatics’ log onto social media with the intent of watching video every time.

The fact that so many major sporting events are still on Pay-TV means its dominance will continue for the time being. Indeed, many now offer extensive social media offerings that are complementary to their existing coverage. Sky Sports offers Premier League highlights on YouTube, while BT Sport has made the UEFA Champions League Final available for free on the video platform. Meanwhile, Eurosport plans to release real-time clips of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Twitter.

However, the ongoing shift towards streaming could have a long-term impact on prospects, with 52% of sports fans believing they will “cut the cord” within the next five years.

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