Report: Majority of UK sports fans want to watch sport exclusively online

The majority of sports fans in the UK want to watch sport exclusively via over the top (OTT) platforms, a new report has found.

Altogether, 73% of British sports fans see the value in watching streamed sport and are wish to watch only on OTT platforms, with half of those ready to pay up to £10 per month, according to Grabyo’s new 2021 Sports Video Trends Report.

In 2021, 45% of fans are only paying for streaming services. By 2026, Grabyo’s report suggests that the pay-TV market will only have a 28% customer share of global sports fans.

Grabyo surveyed over 15,000 consumers across 14 countries to identify the video viewing and purchasing habits of global consumers. It found that over one third of consumers are watching sport regularly across broadcast and digital platforms.

The report’s findings show sports fans are growing impatient with the lack of streaming options, suggesting that fans either expect more sport to be available on streaming services in the future, or may choose not to watch live sport if it is only available through broadcast TV subscriptions.

In 2019, Grabyo found that 53% of global sports fans that pay for video services were planning to cut the cord and switch to streaming exclusively by 2024.

Scott Lunn, head of content at Grabyo, told SVG Europe: “Broadcasters and media rights holders across sport must act fast to align their video strategies with what consumers are asking for. 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.

“In many markets across Asia and in the US, streaming services that carry sport have experienced explosive growth over the past two years,” Lunn continued. “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.

“We have also heard from many service providers that social media platforms are becoming key competitors. Over half of UK sports fans are using social media to watch sports content, and are demanding more live and video on demand (VOD) content from rights holders and broadcasters. Stay-at-home measures during the past 18 months have accelerated social media’s shift from networking platforms to established content destinations for all demographics, Lunn concluded.

Sports fans are not yet abandoning broadcast TV subscriptions entirely because of the lack of sports available on streaming services. The likes of NowTV,  BT Sport and Amazon Prime Video carry a variety of live sport in the UK market, but 58% of UK fans report they will not cut the cord because not enough content is available without a broadcast TV subscription.

The report finds that among those UK fans who would switch to streaming exclusively for sport, 47% would pay up to £10 per month for a dedicated service, while 38% would pay up to £25 per month.

Globally, 79% of sports fans report they are ready to switch to online streaming only for sport.

These findings reflect a global trend of consumers adopting streaming services in favour of broadcast TV subscriptions, which has been accelerated by stay-at-home safety measures during 2020. This led to consumers across age demographics experimenting with streaming services and being convinced by their value. Grabyo reports that half of global sports fans surveyed are over 45 years old.

Since 2019, the report finds that broadcast TV subscriptions have fallen 9% among global sports fans, while online streaming subscriptions have increased 41%.

The report also finds a high demand for free-to-access sports content across social media. With almost half of UK sports fans using social media platforms to access content, 55% want to see more live sport broadcast to social media, while 51% want more instant highlights and social videos.


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