Thanks to growing fragmentation of sports content options, more than half (59%) of global sports fans say they have trouble finding or can’t afford sports content, according to the latest Global Sports Media Survey from Altman Solon.
Of the fans who have trouble accessing live sports content, 35% say that it's too expensive to access all of the content that they want, 30% say they don’t know which channels events are being broadcast on, 28% don’t know which platforms an event is being broadcast on, and 17% say their desired events aren't broadcast in their markets or countries.
At the same time, 56% say they would watch more sports if those were accessible to them.
The research, conducted in August and September by IRIS and GWI, included a survey of more than 150 senior sports executives globally, as well as a survey of 2,500 consumers interested in sports in eight countries: the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico and China.
“It seems counterintuitive that the answer to the glut of sports content is more sports content, but sports fans are hungry for more,” said David Dellea, director of Altman Solon. “It turns out fans actually want more content, but often can’t afford the costs of additional subscriptions or get lost in the web of channels and streaming platforms providing content. Some form of industry consolidation seems likely, either through audience aggregation or content democratization, which should be beneficial for both the industry and sports fans.”
Shifting consumption habits among younger fans, in particular, mean that sports media must provide multiplatform sports options.
Global fans of all ages are multitasking on other digital media while watching sports, with 57% browsing the internet, 50% using social media and 43% using messaging. This limits extended engagement in live sports events.
Younger fans average 1.5 times more hours online compared to older fans.
Fans are also increasingly apt to watch shorter digital formats, with more reporting that they watch highlight videos than live games on either linear or online.
As a result, average TV hours watched per week are projected to drop 16% by 2040.
To address the challenges and continue to grow, the sports media industry will need to consolidate, but also harness Web 3.0 and other new technology, and cooperate to achieve content aggregation.
The industry will also need to offer more flexible price options, including ad-supported and pay-per-view; personalized content and content beyond live games; and interactive options such as feeds, micro-betting, gaming and esports integrations and social engagement, the surveyed executives said.