Research: Less than a quarter of sports fans will have a pay-TV subscription by 2025

More than half of sports fans will cut the cord within five years

Almost half of sports fans already do not pay for a pay-TV subscription, and more than half of those that do intend to stop soon.

A new global study from Grabyo has found that 44% of sports fans do not currently pay for a pay-TV subscription, while 54% of those who do currently pay for pay-TV plan to stop within five years.

The report asked consumers about their spending habits on TV and video services, how they value subscriptions, and future plans to pay for video.

Major broadcasters and pay-TV providers currently hold many of the world’s premier sporting rights and consumers have limited choice in where, or how, to watch. By 2025, less than a quarter of sports fans will subscribe to pay-TV, which has significant implications for sports federations and media rights.

Today, 58% of sports fans watch sport on online streaming platforms, which ranges from direct-to-consumer streaming services, social platforms, websites and apps.

Online streaming and OTT services have conditioned consumers to reassess how they value video and TV, said Gareth Capon, Grabyo CEO: “The ‘death of TV’ has been proclaimed for some time and yet TV remains the dominant platform for video viewing. Yet there are  many types of TV and the boundaries between traditional TV services and online streaming are starting to blur. YouTube users watched 250 million hours of video every day on TV screens last year, up 39% on the previous year.

“The online video market is about to get much more competitive,” he continued. “This means greater availability of content, more platforms and more flexible price points for consumers. 2020 is also the year in which free-to-air services make the jump from TV to OTT, shifting the conversation about streaming from paid subscriptions to a broader proposition set – with consumer choice and value at the heart of this debate.”

He noted that major new services will launch this year including HBO MAX and Peacock (NBC Universal) in the US, while Disney+ joins Britbox in competing with Netflix in the UK. Asian markets are slightly behind the global adoption curve, yet local services are beginning to thrive, such as Line TV in Thailand. Asia is an important growth market for Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, with $4 per month mobile-only subscriptions now available to Netflix customers in India and Malaysia.

Sports fans are showing a keen interest in online streaming options, the report showed. In the UK, US and Australia, between 25% to 30% of consumers would pay up to $25 to watch sports online.

Sports-focused streaming services such as DAZN offer a low entry price point and have scaled successfully, and for a leading rights holder such as the English Premier League to generate increased revenue from a direct-to-consumer streaming model, scale matters.

The report concludes that correctly timing the decision to move from selling exclusive media rights packages to pay-TV broadcasters, to selling streaming services direct to fans, may be the most important decision for major sports in the next decade.

Capon commented: “2020 will be the year we see the true impact of the streaming wars on viewing habits and what this means for the wider video industry. Broadcasters and rights holders need to cater to an audience that is moving away from traditional TV.  Flexibility, access and price are important to consumers, which means delivering a multi-platform video strategy that reflects these needs. With more than half of sports fans planning to drop pay-TV subscriptions within the next five years, the sports industry needs to adapt its offering and reflect the needs of the modern fan.”

Grabyo’s ‘Value of Video Report 2020: The Consumer Strikes Back’ report used data from 13,000 consumers across 11 territories including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, US, Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, Japan and Australia.

See the full report here.

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