Sports are a major deciding factor when choosing a streaming service. Altman Solon, a global strategy firm, released its 2023 Sports Survey this month, offering insight into exactly how much sports influence a consumer’s streaming preferences.
Altman Solon surveyed 2,500 sports fans in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and China alongside more than 150 senior sports executives, rights owners, media distributors, and investors. The survey found “unprecedented changes” in how audiences access and watch sports, which has become a fragmented, confusing realm to navigate.
When participants weighed in on what their main “pain point” was regarding sports, 59% noted at least one accessibility issue when trying to watch their favorite teams. The report shows that 35% of respondents said the live broadcast of the games was too expensive. Another 30% said they found it difficult to determine which channel a game was being broadcasted on, while 17% said games weren’t available in their market.
“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 at 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.”
The study comes at a time when streaming services are investing more than ever to snap up exclusive games. Streaming platforms know sports can drive up subscription numbers and are investing more in securing the rights to sports content but fans are struggling to keep up with the vast number of streaming services required to catch every game and avoid the dreaded blackout screen shown when rights to a game are already sold to streamers like Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, and ESPN+.
The study showed 43% of viewers 35 and older are more likely to report having no issues compared to 30% of younger audiences. Fans found accessibility issues when streaming sports, with 17% of respondents saying they didn’t know which platform a game would be available.
Altman Solon’s report shows that 56% of fans would “spend more or significantly more hours” watching sports if they were available on their main sports content platform, which highlights the impact of accessibility on viewership.
Further fragmenting sports content is the attention span of audiences. The report found that broadcast viewers spent more time watching the games. In contrast, streamers divide their time between other tasks like browsing the internet or using social media or messaging, cutting into how much time they actually spend watching the games they’re tuned into.
Altman Solon found that younger audiences who caught games on a streaming platform were more likely to prefer watching highlight reels over live game coverage.
“Broadcasters and rights owners need a better understanding of the ‘fan of the future’ and must adapt their packaging to the shifting trends,” said a surveyed president of Global Sports Federation.
As more sports leagues entertain the option of partnering with a streaming platform, streaming services have an opportunity to snag audiences with the promise of premium sports content while also offering more entertainment value through their content libraries. More streaming services already offer sports package add-ons and bundle packages enticing fans to sign up with them over another service. Prime Video hosts Thursday Night Football, Max offers the Bleacher Report, YouTube has Sunday Ticket, and Hulu offers a number of sports channels.
Media companies need to engage end users and understand what they want and when they want it: Not all consumers want the whole menu – some just want live sports, others only highlights, others behind the scenes and documentaries, etc,” said one senior executive of Global Sports Governing Body.