Research Reveals Huge Opportunity For Live Sports Streaming If Fans Can Get Access To The Right Leagues And Teams

Fans would pay more if streaming offered coverage of a sports league or team that interests them, but cost is currently leading to cancellations when content packages aren’t compelling enough

LOS ANGELES (February 25, 2020): Sports fans are willing to pay more for streaming live sports, but only if it provides better access to the sports teams and leagues they are interested in. These are some of the key findings of an international survey, commissioned by Verizon Media, into what fans want from services that let them stream live sports.

The research was conducted amongst 5,000 sports fans in the US, UK, France, Germany and Holland* and found that  the opportunity for content providers streaming live sports is huge, as long as  they offer greater personalization, better viewing options and a different advertising experience better suited to a streaming environment.

Fans are willing to pay more to get closer to their team

Almost two thirds (63 percent) would consider paying – or paying more if they already do so – for a live sports streaming service if it offered coverage of a sports league or team that interests them. Less than half (47 percent) of respondents with a premium subscription feel that it gives them access to all the teams they want to watch, pointing to a market with plenty of opportunity for growth.

Fifty-one percent of sports fans specifically use streaming services to follow sports that are not available anywhere else. They like the flexibility and high-quality experience streaming gives them, with 39 percent using a streaming service because it allows them to watch on their smartphone and 32 percent opting to stream live sports in 4K Ultra High Definition. Over a third (37 percent) of respondents choosing to stream live sports over-the-top because it’s a less expensive alternative to satellite or cable Pay TV.

Ariff Sidi, Chief Product Officer, Verizon Media said, “There is a huge opportunity for content providers to reshape the entire landscape of live sports by offering more choice and deeper coverage of specific teams. There is the potential to build global audiences around niche sports and leagues that don’t currently get enough airtime, but to do so they must employ the latest and most flexible technology resources.”

Fans are cancelling if they don’t see value

Over a third (37 percent) of sports fans have cancelled a live streaming subscription, with almost half (45 percent) citing cost as the primary reason. The most passionate sports consumers**, cancel services due to a lack of coverage of the teams they follow (23 percent), a hard-to-use interface (15 percent) or inordinate delay behind live (19 percent).

Sidi added, “We’ve already seen that if you get the content right, they could be willing to pay more and still see it as the option available to them that gives the most value for their money.”

Fans seek control of their live sports streaming experience

Approximately one in three sports fans are looking for more control over the live experience, wanting access to replay controls like slow motion (35 percent), the ability to switch between camera angles (30 percent), time shifting (30 percent) and the ability to skip ads (30 percent). There is also significant interest in getting easier access to match highlights (42 percent), and libraries of on-demand content (22 percent).

“The industry talks a lot about streaming services being ‘TV-like’ but sports fans actually want a different experience that puts them in total control. Streaming services are much more capable of innovating because they have the luxury of using advanced technology that can serve every consumer need from day one,” added Sidi. “Live sports streaming services can emulate the best aspects of traditional television while bringing totally unique immersive experiences to fans.”

Asked to choose between 4K Ultra High definition or improvements to the gap between true live and pictures appearing on screen, two thirds of sports fans (66 percent) would choose picture quality versus only a third (34 percent) who would pick reduced latency.

New platforms demand new advertising models

Nearly nine in ten (86 percent) sports fans expect streaming services to offer a different ad experience, with over half (54 percent) expecting fewer adverts and around a third (29 percent) wanting more personalized advertising and offers.

Sidi concluded, “We’re seeing yet more evidence for the need to tailor content and business models to suit individual viewers. Service providers can make full use of the true flexibility of online streaming to personalize every aspect of the experience – from the content to the way they monetize it.”

The full findings are available by downloading the report, Viewing Shifts: How We Watch Sport, published by Verizon Media in partnership with Leaders in Sport. The report includes commentary from BT Sports, DAZN, Facebook, Turner and Verizon Media.

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