Will Subscribers Really Leave Pay TV If All Major Sports Shift To Streaming?

Hanging on to pay TV just because of sports programming? 

A significant number of sports fans are in that frame of mind. A study from Aluma showed research that said if all NFL games were moved to streaming from pay TV, 11% of respondents would follow -- abandoning pay TV. 

Then consider other loyal fans of NBA and Major League Baseball. Added into the NFL mix as an average, 8% of respondents move.

Not everyone watches sports -- but lots of viewers on pay TV channels do. In addition, consider that 80% of live TV sports viewers also subscribe to at least one of the top-five subscription services.

An additional 8% of the entire pay TV ecosystem -- currently around 82 million -- that's another 6.6 million more cord-cutters, on top of regular 5% to 7% annual declines in pay TV homes.

Data here comes from a 2022 survey of 2,398 U.S. heads of households that subscribe to a home internet service.



Still, an 8% decline might not be so bad.

Analysts believe the numbers should be much higher -- say, 30% for TV sports content departures -- which some say is the key to pay TV's health.

In that light, Michael Greeson, founder and director of research at Aluma, says these results are not that bad. "The findings are contrary to the dominant narrative that, without live TV sports, pay TV couldn't survive. Perhaps live sports are less critical to pay TV's stickiness than we've long believed," Greeson says. 

At the same time, he says one shouldn't read too much into the declines, adding: "The data only indicates that the role of live sports in reducing churn may not be as strong as we've long believed.” 

This all points to what remains for pay TV. 

Some people say it could become a Philo sort of business. That's the pay TV service of more than 60 networks priced at very low $25 a month, consisting almost entirely of of cable TV networks -- like A&E, Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, History, MTV --  focusing on entertainment and unscripted content   -- without sports channels, broadcast TV networks or TV stations. 

The end result is that pay TV would survive, as a more quiet alternative for entertainment and media consumers-- older consumers perhaps -- looking for familiar linear TV network programming.

Can we live with that option?

2 comments about "Will Subscribers Really Leave Pay TV If All Major Sports Shift To Streaming?".
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  1. T Bo from Wordpress, November 7, 2022 at 11:07 a.m.

    It's already bothersome when ESPN+/Fubo swallows up a hockey cast.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 8, 2022 at 6:43 p.m.

    Interesting study, Wayne. But it's also true that people often don't do what they claim they will do in surveys like this while others who don't make such claims may, when the time comes, change their minds and drop "payTV". If you look at the stats---as we do at Media Dynamics Inc---the NFL games represent only sa small portion of the average "linear TV" viewer's total yerly consumption---high ratings per telecast notwithstanding. A typical adult spends only 2-3% of his/her total TV time with such fare---though, obviously the corresponding percentage for hard core fans of pro football, is, no doubt,double or triple this figure.

    You are also right to point out that there are other sports---baseball, basketball, etc.---- and their fans are not neceessarily the same people who favor football---some are; others aren't. So it's a fair question to ask whether the loss of all major pro and NCAA sports attractions would doom "linearTV". Though there would be a negative impact, I tend to doubt the doom and gloom predictions  because of the importance of other program genres to "linear TV " aidiences---especially  women who, let's face it, are not into male dominated pro sports nearly as much as men. They will want to watch the local news, primetime sitcoms and dramas, reality shows, game shows, etc. etc. so why would they cancel their"pay TV" just because the NFL or even the NBA and MLB, were no longer available?

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