Ampere: Live Sports Streaming Spending to Top $8.5 Billion in 2023

Live sports has become the new player among original content spending for subscription streaming video services around the world. Spending on sports rights globally will reach $8.5 billion this year, up 64% from $5.2 billion in spending in 2022, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The research suggests that live sports streaming rights spending will reach 21% of all sports distribution rights investment (broadcast, pay-TV, radio, streaming), compared WITH 13% the year before.

At the same time, that spending pales in comparison to movie and TV show content spending, led by Netflix, which is again spending $17 billion on content in 2023. In 2022, 28% of original content spending was from streaming platforms such as Disney+, Prime Video, Apple TV+, Paramount+, Peacock and Netflix. However, as streaming technology has improved, and as sports consumers expect to be able to stream their favorite sports, the streaming business model has finally taken off. At the same time, the challenging economic outlook for ad-supported traditional sports broadcasters is incentivizing rights owners — led by the NFL in the U.S. — to seek out streaming platforms in order to achieve media rights revenue growth.

Leading the way for streaming platforms’ growing investment in sports rights, particularly in Europe, is DAZN. The London-based SVOD accounted for more than half ($2.7 billion) of all subscription streaming video spend on sports rights in 2022.

Recent years have seen an acceleration in sports rights spend by general entertainment streaming services as providers look to differentiate content offerings. General entertainment services accounted for six of the top 10 SVOD by global spend on sports rights in 2022.

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The exclusive NFL deal with Prime Video that kicked off in September 2022 was arguably the turning point for sports on general entertainment SVOD platforms. It represented  the largest single deal signed to-date by any sports streaming service, and has since been surpassed only by Google-owned YouTube’s $14 billion NFL deal for the coveted “Sunday Ticket” games package.

Jack Genovese, research manager at Ampere, said he believes the transition to streaming will take longer for sports than for other content genres. This is in part because of the nature of sports rights deals, which typically span multiple years. It is also due to the astronomical monetary value of sports rights, and the sensitivities characterizing the distribution and consumption of sport from legacy TV to streaming video.

“The need for high-quality, low latency feeds will continue to favor risk-averse behavior among broadcasters and rights owners alike,” Genovese said in a statement. “However, streaming will offer opportunities for sports to experiment with content, distribution and monetization, which will revolutionize the way in which sports rights are sold and bought in the future.”

Disney Pays $900 Million for Final BAMTech Ownership Stake

One of the last corporate decisions made by ousted Disney CEO Bob Chapek made was paying $900 million to Major League Baseball for the remaining 15% stake in BAMTech, the backend IT company that powers Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu, among other digital properties.

Disney disclosed the purchase in its annual 10K filing for the fiscal period ended Oct. 1.

The deal makes Disney 100% owner of the erstwhile Major League Baseball Advanced Media property spun off by MLB in 2015. In 2016, Disney, under the direction of former (now reinstated) CEO Bob Iger, acquired a 33% ownership in BAMTech for $1 billion, upping the stake to 75% a year later for another $1.5 billion as the company made plans for the launches of Disney+ and ESPN+. Last year, Disney paid the National Hockey League $350 million for its 10% ownership in BAMTech.

The transaction comes after Disney reported a $1.5 billion quarterly operating loss for its direct-to-consumer business unit. The unit lost more than $4 billion in the fiscal year. Notably, in the regulatory filing, Disney valued MLB’s stake in BAMTech at $828 million.

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Disney+ Ups Q4 Subs 39% to 164 Million, Streaming Biz Loss Skyrockets $800 Million to $1.5 Billion

The Walt Disney Co. Nov. 8 announced that its flagship streaming service ended the fourth quarter (ended Oct. 1) with more than 164 million global subscribers. That was up 39% from 118.1 million subs during the previous-year period.

The platform, which is launching an ad-supported subscription option on Dec. 8, again saw India’s Disney + Hotstar account for the majority of the platform’s subs at 61.3 million — up 42% from 43.3 million a year ago.

North American subscribers increased 20% to 46.4 million from 38.8 million. International subs (excluding India) increased 57% to 56.5 million from 36 million.

Separately, ESPN+ saw its sub base increase 42% to 24.3 million from 17.1 million.

Hulu ended the fiscal year with 42.8 million, up 9% from 39.7 million. Hulu + Live TV ended the period with 4.4 million subs, up 10% from 4 million. Total Hulu subscriber count increased 8% to 47.2 million from 43.8 million.

Overall, the direct-to-consumer segment saw revenue increase 8% to $4.9 billion and operating loss increased $800 million to $1.5 billion. The increase in operating loss was due to a higher loss at Disney+ and a decrease in results at Hulu, partially offset by improved results at ESPN+.

In a statement, CEO Bob Chapek remained cautiously optimistic about the media giant’s digital strategy going forward.

“Our fourth quarter saw strong subscription growth with the addition of 14.6 million total subscriptions, including 12.1 million Disney+ subscribers,” Chapek said. “We expect our DTC operating losses to narrow going forward and that Disney+ will still achieve profitability in fiscal 2024, assuming we do not see a meaningful shift in the economic climate.”

Nielsen: Live Sports Streaming Appealing to U.S. Consumers

With 90% of U.S. homes having access to high-speed internet service, the ability to live-stream sports at home on the television has never been greater. This year for the first time, the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” game is only available to watch if you are an Amazon Prime member. Next year, Major League Soccer matches will only be available via streaming on Apple TV+.

Nielsen contends those two rights deals signal a consumer shift that has been building as emerging digital platforms, i.e., ESPN+, DAZN, FuboTV, Paramount+ and Peacock, have progressively increased their stakes in sports rights. While some deals will continue to involve a mix of linear and streaming, such as the new Big Ten Conference deal, recent viewership trends illustrate how comfortable fans are in accessing sports content without traditional broadcast and cable access, according to Nielsen.

Indeed, the ratings firm says 80% of sports fans, 76% of NFL fans and 89% of soccer fans have regularly or sometimes watched sports on any streaming or online channel this year.

Nielsen TV viewership data shows that the first three “Thursday Night Football” games on Prime Video this year attracted significantly more viewers (13 million, 11 million and 11.7 million, respectively) than each of the seven Thursday games from last year that aired only on the NFL Network.

Twitter first streamed 10 Thursday Night Football games during the 2016-17 NFL season in a non-exclusive deal alongside network broadcasts.

Across the top 56 U.S. local markets where Nielsen measures TV audiences, broadband-only households (no pay-TV) are 36% more likely to stream sports events than the average TV household, according to Nielsen. In some markets, they are twice as likely to view sports events.

The increasing focus on new broadband infrastructure by the federal government, coupled with Americans’ plans to increase their streaming usage in the coming year, serves as additional evidence that audiences will continue gravitating to digital content options, including sports — one of two genres that remains a fixture within traditional linear TV programming.

“Given the strong appetite for sports and news among broadband-only homes, combined with the significant audience engagement with the first exclusive Thursday Night Football games on Amazon, it’s likely that streaming services will continue to expand by offering different genres that non-pay-TV viewers are clamoring for,” read the report.

Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ to Be Touted in ‘Bundle Pavilion’ at D23

Streaming services Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ will be touted at the D23 Expo 2022 in early September.

At the event, presented by Visa, attendees will be able to enjoy immersive experiences, talent appearances, and photo opportunities at the Disney Bundle Pavilion along with live demos of the latest features on Disney+ and special perks for Disney+ subscribers across the show floor, according to the studio.

This year, the global celebration of Disney+ Day returns Sept. 8, leading into the D23 Expo Sept. 9 to 11. Attendees will be treated to news, first looks, and talent appearances from upcoming Disney+ Originals as part of the Hall D23 showcases including the Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Disney Live Action presentation on Sept. 9, and the Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios and Disney Branded Television presentations on Sept. 10. Throughout the weekend, Disney+ subscribers attending D23 Expo will be able to unlock special giveaways or promotions at Offer Spots on the show floor when they present their Disney+ subscriber pass, which can be picked up at D23 Expo starting on Sept. 8.

In honor of the new home of “Dancing With the Stars,” Disney+ will ​​invite guests to step into the ballroom for a special celebration on the Backlot Stage on Sept. 11. Co-hosts Tyra Banks and Alfonso Ribeiro will be joined by a panel of executive producers and judges to share their memories from the show and reveal new details about season 31, premiering Sept. 19 on Disney+.

On the show floor, the Disney Bundle Pavilion will showcase the collection of entertainment and sports content offered across Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ with special programming and experiences. Disney+ will exhibit two installations. A lenticular installation offers guests an opportunity to look for their reflection among the moving images, while a Disney+ holographic display will offer beamed-in appearances by characters.

Hulu will invite guests to “Check in to Their Obsessions” as they walk through the Hulu green vessel. They will be able to join the Belchers for a “Bob’s Burgers” family photo opportunity, as well as put themselves in the hot seat of a confessional from their favorite reality TV shows, as they navigate a variety of immersive experiences.

ESPN+ will offer fans a close-up look at some of the most iconic memorabilia in sports, including the College Football Playoff trophy, the UFC Championship belt, an El Clásico game ball, and more. Fans will also be able to snap a photo sitting behind a sports news desk. 

The Disney Bundle Pavilion stage will host three days of panels, trivia, activities, screenings, and more, highlighting the offerings from Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+.

The tentative schedule includes:

Friday, Sept. 9
11:35 a.m. — “Pixar’s Onward Story Presentation” by story supervisor Kelsey Mann
12 p.m. — “To the Edge of the Unknown” from National Geographic with Jimmy Chin and Alex Honnold
12:35 p.m. —” Sketch With an Animator” with Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Eric Goldberg
1:55 p.m. — “The History of Cars: Road Trip from the Original Film to New Series ‘Cars on the Road'” with creative director Jay Ward
3:50 p.m. — “Across the Bundle Spotlights: Hispanic Voices Panel”
6:25 p.m. — Hulu dance party

Saturday, Sept. 10
12:10 p.m. — “A Conversation with Frozen Filmmakers” with Academy Award winners Chris Buck (director) and Peter Del Vecho (producer)
1:10 p.m. — “Sketch with an Animator” with Lindsay Carrozza of “Solar Opposites”
3:50 p.m. — “Across the Bundle Spotlights: Made by Her Panel”
4:50 p.m. — “Meet the Muppets: The Muppets Mayhem Conversation” hosted by Tahj Mowry
6:25 p.m. – Hulu dance party

Sunday, Sept. 11
10 a.m. — “A Conversation with Encanto Filmmakers” with Academy Award winners Jared Bush (director/writer), Clark Spencer (producer), and Yvett Merino (producer)
3:50 p.m. — “Across the Bundle Spotlights: Black History Always Panel”
6:25 p.m. — Hulu dance party

Continuing the Disney+ Day celebration, fans will be treated to first looks at some of the new movies, series, specials, and shorts coming to Disney+ in 2023 and beyond during the following panels:

Friday, Sept. 9
10:45 a.m. — “The Simpsons” (Premiere Stage)
3:30 p.m. — “Studio Showcase, Day 1: Celebrate the Magic of Disney and Pixar” (Hall D23)
5:45 p.m. — National Geographic and Disney+ special screening: “Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory” (Hyperion Stage)

Saturday, Sept. 10
10 a.m. — “Studio Showcase, Day 2: Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, and 20th Century Studios” (Hall D23)
3:30 p.m. — “Disney’s Epic Entertainment Showcase: The Musical: The Extravaganza!” (Hall D23)
5:45 p.m. — National Geographic and Disney+ special screening: “Limitless with Chris Hemsworth” (Hyperion Stage)
6 p.m. — “The Santa Clauses: Conversation with Cast and Creators” (Premiere Stage)
6 p.m. – sneak peek at Zootopia+ from Walt Disney Animation Studios (Backlot Stage)

Sunday, Sept. 11
10 a.m. — Disney original documentary’s sneak peek of Mickey: The Story of a Mouse (Backlot Stage)
10:30 a.m. — the cast and creators of the Disney+ Series “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” (Premiere Stage)
6 p.m. — “Dancing With the Stars” 31st season celebration (Backlot Stage)

The Disney+ Innovation Lounge Presented by Imax Enhanced will feature innovations from across partners and products in a dedicated space to learn and explore the future of the streaming service. In the lounge, Disney+ subscribers and D23 Gold Members will receive a Disney+ collectible card pack featuring custom illustrations.

D23 Expo is sold out, according to the studio.  Select presentations will be streamed for guests at D23 Expo Live! For more information, visit

Disney+ Tops 152.1 Million Q3 Subs; Ad-Supported Tier Launching Dec. 8 Along With Platform Price Hikes

The Walt Disney Co. on Aug. 10 announced that its branded Disney+ subscription streaming service completed the studio’s third third quarter (ended July 2) with 152.1 million subscribers worldwide. That represents a 31% increase from 116 million subs at the end of the previous-year period. The platform added 14.4 million subs since the end of Q2 on April 2.

Disney’s pending ad-supported Disney+ subscription offering is set to launch on Dec. 8, priced at $7.99 per month. The ad-free subscription tier is increasing to $10.99 monthly, up $3. Hulu will also see a price hike to $7.99 from $6.99, with the ad-free option rising to $14.99 from the current $12.99.

Again, much of the platform’s foreign subscriber growth originated in India through Disney’s Hotstar streaming platform. The platform helped Disney add 13.5 million subs to 58.4 million from 44.9 million last year.

Disney+ added 6.6 million North American subs to end the period with 44.5 million from 37.9 million at the end of Q3 2021. International sub growth, excluding India, grew 48% to 49.2 million from 33.2 million last year.

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International subscribers now account for 107.6 million, or almost 71% of the Disney+ subscriber base.

When combined with 22.8 million ESPN+ subs (up 53% year-over-year), plus Hulu’s 42.2 million (up 8%) and four million Hulu with Live TV subs (up 8%), Disney ended Q3 with 221 million total streaming subscribers.

Disney expects to generate 135 million to 165 million core Disney+ subs by end of fiscal-year 2024, with non-Hotstar subscribers accounting for 60% to 70% of the projected 230 million to 260 million overall subscribers. Disney is now upping its guidance for Disney+ Hotstar subs to 80 million by the end of fiscal year 2024.

Meanwhile, as Disney ups its direct-to-consumer streaming footprint, so too do the segment’s expenses. The DTC segment ended the quarter with more than $1.1 billion in operating losses on revenue of $5 billion. That compared with an operating loss of $293 million on revenue of $4.2 billion in the previous-year period as the platform ramps up content spending and worldwide distribution.

Disney expects the unit’s operating loss to peak in the current fiscal quarter before transitioning toward operating income over the next two years.

“We continue to transform entertainment as we near our second century, with compelling new storytelling across our many platforms and unique immersive physical experiences that exceed guest expectations, all of which are reflected in our strong operating results this quarter,” CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement.

Disney Upping ESPN+ Monthly Subscription Streaming Fee 43%

Disney is raising the monthly subscription fee for its ESPN+ streaming service $3 on Aug. 23 — a 43% increase from the current $6.99 fee. The new annual subscription price will jump to $99.99 from $69.99 currently.

The $13.99 monthly cost of the Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ bundle will not change.

The move comes as Disney attempts to expedite profitability for its direct-to-consumer business segment, which also includes Disney+, Hulu and Hulu + Live TV. Disney raised Hulu’s monthly fee $1 to $6.99 a year ago.

The direct-to-consumer segment reported an operating loss of $880 million on revenue of $4.9 billion in the most-recent fiscal period. The loss dwarfed the previous-year operating loss of $290 million.

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ESPN+ ended Q1 with 22.3 million subscribers, up from 13.8 million in the previous-year period.

“As we increase our content investment, we believe that that’s going to give us the ability to adjust our price,” CEO Bob Chapek said on that fiscal call.

Disney+ Adds 7.9 Million Q2 Subs, Reaches 138 Million Globally

The Walt Disney Co. May 11 said it added 7.9 million Disney+ subscribers in the second quarter (ended April 2). The streamer ended the period with almost 138 million subscribers worldwide, which includes 50.1 Hotstar subscribers in India.

The streamer, combined with ESPN+ and Hulu and Hulu + Live TV, brings Disney’s direct-to-consumer bundle to almost 206 million subs, up from 196.4 million during the previous-year period.

Specifically, Disney+ added 7.1 million North American subs, to bring the region’s total to 44.4 million, up from 37.3 million in the previous-year period. Internationally (excluding Hotstar), Disney+ added 12.1 million subs to bring its overseas base to 43.2 million, compared with 31.1 million a year ago.

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ESPN+ added 9 million subs to reach 22.8 million, up from 13.8 million last year. Hulu ended the quarter with 41.4 million subs, up from 32.8 million subs in the prior-year period. Hulu + Live TV, Disney’s online TV streaming platform, finished the quarter with 4.1 million subs, up from 3.8 million subs a year ago.

“Our strong results in the second quarter … once again proved that we are in a league of our own,” CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement. “Quite simply, we believe Disney+ is one-of-a-kind streaming service.”

At the same time, direct-to-consumer business increases also result in increased costs. Segment revenue for the quarter increased 23% to $4.9 billion, and operating loss increased $600 million to $900 million. The increase in operating loss was due to higher losses at Disney+ and ESPN+ and lower operating income at Hulu.

Lower results at Disney+ reflected higher programming and production, marketing and technology costs, partially offset by an increase in subscription revenue. Higher subscription revenue was due to subscriber growth and increases in retail pricing. The increases in costs and subscribers reflected growth in existing markets and, to a lesser extent, expansion to new markets.

Lower results at ESPN+ were due to higher sports programming costs and a decrease in income from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pay-per-view events, partially offset by an increase in subscription revenue due to subscriber growth. Lower UFC pay-per-view income was due to a decrease in average buys per event.

The decrease at Hulu was due to higher programming and production, marketing and technology costs, partially offset by subscription revenue growth and higher advertising revenue. The increase in programming and production costs was primarily due to higher subscriber-based fees for programming the live-TV service due to the carriage of more networks, an increase in the number of subscribers and rate increases. Subscription revenue growth was due to an increase in subscribers and higher average rates, primarily due to increases in retail pricing. The increase in advertising revenue was due to higher rates and impressions.

Streamers Up Their Live Sports Game

Amazon and Apple TV+ are reportedly increasing their professional sports leagues aspirations, with Apple in talks to live-stream select Major League Baseball games this year. While details remain scarce, the agreement would include a smattering of non-weekend games, allowing Apple to test the waters as it attempts to jumpstart subscriber interest beyond original TV series and movies.

With live professional sports slowly embracing distribution beyond proprietary walled platforms, U.S. streamers (with the exception of Netflix) are expanding their sports dreams. None have done so more dynamically than Amazon, which last year secured exclusive rights to “NFL Thursday Night” games over the next 12 years for $1 billion annually.

Prime Video is now in discussions with venerable NFL broadcast play caller Al Michaels to host the streamer’s revamped Thursday games for the 2022 season. The streamer most recently relied on the first-ever female broadcast team (Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer) and/or the Fox Sports simulcast duo of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Aikman reportedly is eyeing the Amazon gig.

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The streamer is also considering hiring former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch as a sideline reporter/analyst.

With sports a longtime staple of CBS, ABC, NBC, ESPN and TNT networks, streaming availability of football and basketball on the Paramount+, Peacock and HBO Max platforms is a natural extension. Peacock just announced it would live-stream all events, including opening and closing ceremonies, at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. Paramount+ is also aggressively streaming European soccer.

“[Sports] is television’s most valuable property by far, attracting massive audiences, and major advertisers, and it will be fundamental to the growth of Paramount+,” George Cheeks, head of the CBS Entertainment Group, said in a presentation last year. “It drives more subscriptions than any other program and significant engagement too.”

Paramount+ is the exclusive U.S. streaming hub for European soccer, such as the UEFA league, including the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League matches.

WarnerMedia-owned Turner Sports’ recent seven-year deal with the National Hockey League for TNT and TBS, also means HBO Max will get its share of live-streams. The streamer heretofore has largely opted for sports-themed documentaries and series, “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

Turner Sports is sharing the hockey rights with The Walt Disney Co. and ESPN+ as the NHL’s national media rights partners in the United States.

“We love the reach of their linear networks, both TNT and TBS, and as we look to the future, we’re excited about the digital properties, in particular HBO Max and Bleacher Report,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “For us, this is a perfect fit.”

Netflix Leads Parks List of 2021 Top 10 U.S. SVOD Services

Netflix topped the list of Parks Associates’ 2021 top 10 U.S. paid subscription over-the-top (OTT) video services.

The list is based on estimated numbers of subscribers through September 2021 from the firm’s OTT Video Market Tracker.

The 2021 list shows the first change in the top three services since the firm started tracking the providers in 2015. Disney+ has moved into the top three, moving ahead of Hulu in number of subscribers. HBO Max moved into the top five, while Paramount+ (rebranded from CBS All Access) jumped to number seven on the list. New entrant Discovery+ is right behind at 11.

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Parks Associates’ 2021 Top 10 U.S. Subscription OTT Video Services (SVOD):

  1. Netflix
  2. Prime Video
  3. Disney+
  4. Hulu
  5. HBO Max
  6. ESPN+
  7. Paramount+
  8. Apple TV+
  9. Starz
  10. Showtime 


The research firm reports that, based on quarterly surveys of 10,000 U.S. broadband households, more than 80% of broadband households have at least one OTT service and that the churn rate for OTT services is 44%, with consumers adopting multiple subscriptions and experimenting with different services.

“While the Disney+ content portfolio may have allowed it to leapfrog stablemate Hulu in 2021 rankings, its position reaffirms the collective power of the Disney Bundle triumvirate: Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+,” Paul Erickson, director of research of Parks Associates, said in a statement. “ViacomCBS’s successful rebrand and content-fueled reformulation of CBS All Access into Paramount+ have allowed it to leapfrog Apple TV+ into seventh place behind ESPN+, and time will tell if the service will break into the top five.”

“Broadband providers added an estimated 6.4 million residential customers to date in 2021, showing rapid growth,” Kristen Hanich, director of research at Parks Associates, said in a statement. “The importance of bundling pay-TV with home broadband is diminishing though — our Home Services Dashboard finds that only 38% of U.S. broadband households bundle pay-TV with their home internet service, a significant decline from past levels.”

The role of online TV continues to grow, with consumers embracing OTT services offered by familiar providers, according to Parks.

“In Q3 2021, 19% of U.S. broadband households reported subscribing to a vMVPD service, nearly double from the previous year,” Eric Sorensen, contributing senior analyst at Parks Associates, said in a statement. “By 2024, the U.S. vMVPD subscriber base will increase to more than 23 million households. All players will continue vying for the leading positions.”