Why The Future of Sports Broadcasting is Now: Rio 2016 and More

It is a truth universally acknowledged: people like sports. Some of the most viewed broadcasts on TV are sporting events, and they make up 40% of the content that people watch on TV. The 2012 Olympic Games were the most watched sshutterstock_153142547porting event in television history with a massive global in-home audience of 3.6 billion viewers, followed by the 2014 World Cup, which raked in 3.2 billion viewers.

This World Cup also saw a 36% increase in broadcast hours in comparison to the previous one, which can perhaps be attributed to the rise of online streaming—according to STATS, over 280 million people watched games on their devices, which would also make it the most digitally connected World Cup of all time.

Now, as the 2016 Olympic Games approach following a summer of soccer—both the Euro cup and Copa America were held this year—lovers of the beautiful game and fair weather fans alike seem to be asking themselves “streaming or cable?” just as often as they ask, “soccer or football?” While there are many names for the beautiful game, it doesn’t necessarily exist as a binary, but the mediums with which people tune in often do. The number of traditional TV subscriptions are declining as more and more fans opt for streaming services to keep up with their favorite teams, and there are a considerable amount—86% of Americans consider themselves sports fans, and among these, 90% follow more than one sport and/or team.

The act of swapping traditional TV for streaming services such as Roku is often referred to as ‘cord-cutting’ and will see considerable growth in the coming years. As the media tides are shifting, so is the market for sports broadcasting. Jeffery I. Cole, founder and director of the Center for the Digital Future (CDF), says that “…sports continue to gain importance among all content — in some cases, it is the only must-see live content left”. Fans would undeniably agree, which is probably why so many are willing to shell out for expensive cable subscriptions to watch games. This is no longer the case with the rise of sports streaming subscriptions.

A study released by the CDF found that fans are clearly shifting preferences, behavior, and spending—in fact, they are willing to pay more for streaming. 56% said that they were willing to spend a higher proportion of their budget per month on online streaming than on cable or satellite channels. This is especially true for the younger, more digitally-inclined generation: millenials are willing to pay more for subscription services, although the same applies for dedicated sports fans of all ages.

And why wouldn’t they? With live sports streaming, they have the option to view more than one game at a time across multiple devices. They can choose from packages which include press conferences and post-game analysis that is specific to their sport or team. Just look at the popularity of existing subscription streaming services such as FOX Soccer. Better yet, look towards the future—more than 4,500 hours of this year’s Olympic Games will be streamed live, and experts predict that, with the availability of streaming services, it will shatter records for live-streaming sporting events. Perhaps there is an Olympic medal for that?

Live sports streaming is a way to reach fans across the globe, across geographical and political divides, regardless of team or nationality. It connects people through one easily accessible medium, even in areas where people may not even own a TV. Even among rural populations, mobile devices are more common. So whether you are a die-hard soccer/football/futbol fan or a young Brazilian national without access to cable, there is an easier way to be a part of the pomp and competition through streaming.