With pay-TV continuing to lose subscribers, a growing percentage of them are switching to streaming video services offering access to live sports, driven in part by college and professional football.
Indeed, football drove 40% of third quarter (ended Sept. 30) subscription VOD subscriber growth, according to new data from Kantar. Prime Video saw 19% of new subs signing up to the platform for exclusive access “NFL Thursday Night Football,” while 15% of new Apple TV subs signed up for the streamer’s exclusive access to Major League Soccer.
Live sports access were the No. 1 and No. 3 reasons, respectively, new subs chose Prime Video and Apple TV.
London-based Kantar reports the addition of live sports to streaming is exacerbating the “cord-cutting” trend. Live sports, alongside the news, had been the cornerstone of the pay-TV bundle, however, with the increased migration to streaming, the necessity for legacy cable TV is decreasing.
Live sport continues to differentiate and drive overall growth in SVOD services, with one in five new subscribers attracted to sign up primarily by the opportunity to watch the sports they like, according to Kantar.
“Beyond live action, subscribers are looking to watch more than one competition,” Andrew Skerratt, Global Insight Director at Kantar, said in a statement. “In Britain, for example, [soccer] is king, but rugby, cricket, tennis are also part of the equation when choosing between new subscriptions.”
In addition to live sports, sports documentaries and behind-the-scenes content regarding particular sports or athletes is a growing trend among streamers, including Netflix, which heretofore has refused to entertain pursuing live sports.
That mindset has shifted minutely after the streamer hosted its first-ever live-stream event: The Netflix Cup, a manufactured golf event featuring pairs of PGA Golf professionals and Formula 1 drivers ahead of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Netflix’s F1 documentary “Drive to Survive” has not only attracted fans of the European-based sport living in the United States, it also expanded the F1’s global viewership by millions, according to Skerratt.
In the United Kingdom, the “Beckham” series on Netflix reached beyond core sports fans. Only 38% of the show’s viewers said sports was one of their top viewing preference, according to Kantar. Regardless, it became the most viewed SVOD title across Britain last October. Notably, 10% of new Netflix U.K. subscribers signed up specifically to watch the series.