Study: Almost 75 per cent of fans to cancel pay-TV subscriptions by 2025
By Tariq Saleh
Less than a quarter of sports fans will have a pay-television subscription package by 2025, which will lead to over-the-top streaming services becoming the dominant viewing option, according to a new report.
Streaming is more popular than pay-TV among 50 per cent of global consumers in 2020, the study by UK-based video technology specialist Grabyo found.
The data from 13,000 consumers across the UK, USA, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Thailand and Australia found that the adoption of online streaming has increased to 55 per cent across those 11 markets.
The study forecasts that up to 74 per cent of customers will become cord-cutters and “pay-TV providers and broadcasters must adapt fast to keep aligned to shifting consumer expectations.”
Almost one in five consumers say they prefer the flexibility that online services offer as they allow for convenient viewing at times that suit them, according to the report.
Around 26 per cent of consumers cited price and affordability as the main reason why they have moved away from pay-TV to streaming services.
The study also found that 44 per cent of global sports fans do not pay for traditional pay-TV services and 54 per cent of those with a pay-TV subscription plan to 'cut the cord' within five years.
According to Grabyo, this is “a clear incentive for rights holders to explore direct-to-consumer streaming models to offer greater flexibility and choice for fans.”
Soccer ranks as the number one sport that fans want to watch on streaming platforms (69 per cent), followed by tennis (44 per cent), motorsports and basketball (both 38 per cent), and boxing (35 per cent).
Several soccer organisations have now gone down the OTT route with Spanish soccer’s LaLiga last year officially launching LaLigaSportsTV, the latest version of its in-house service, which offers free live streaming of domestic events in a variety of sports.
English soccer’s Premier League could adopt a similar service in the coming years as its new chief executive Richard Masters recently revealed it is prepared to launch an OTT platform to show live matches in selected markets in the next rights cycle, from 2022 to 2025.
This comes off the back of online retail giant Amazon securing a package of Premier League rights in the current three-year cycle that began this season.
Other leagues such as Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s Bundesliga are already considering the launch of an in-house media platform for domestic and/or international markets.
Uefa, European soccer’s governing body, said last November that it was considering live-streaming options too, possibly in markets where media rights are not particularly lucrative or bids are lower than expected.
The Grabyo report discovered that the majority of global consumers are willing to pay up to $10 a month to watch sports online.
In 'more mature' streaming markets, such as the UK and USA, consumers value streaming more highly and are willing to pay more.
Sports-focused OTT services such as DAZN offer a low monthly subscription price and have experienced huge growth in recent years.
DAZN this week announced it will significantly expand its footprint, initially in boxing, by making its service available in more than 200 countries and territories from May of this year.
The platform, which offers access to a variety of live sport and support programming without the need for a long-term contract, is presently accessible in only nine markets on four continents.
According to Grabyo, “correctly timing the decision to move from selling exclusive media rights packages to pay-TV broadcasters, with security of income through the rights cycle, to selling streaming services direct to fans may be the most important decision for major sports in the next decade.”
The company predicts that this may also lead to European rights holders moving to the US model where media rights can be bought exclusively for 10 years or more, a contrast with the standard three-year deals in place in the Premier League and Uefa Champions League.