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COVID-19 and the Vulnerability of Pure Play Sports Streaming Services

Report by Alistair Taylor
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The 20,000 Foot View:  The postponement of annual competitions and  major quadrennial events has highlighted just how heavily pay-TV and sport-centric streaming services’  value propositions rely on live sports. Filling schedules with re-runs, docuseries, interviews and archived footage are stopgaps unlikely to increase engagement. Justifying a sports video streaming subscription is now tougher for consumers than ever. In the saturated attention economy, sports streaming services now face increased competition for audience attention and the coronavirus global pandemic leaves them particularly susceptible to subscriber churn. Streaming insurgents that overextended in securing now-dormant rights will have an even harder time recouping these investments in the face of an impending economic downturn.

Key Insights

           of consumers across the US, UK, Canada and Australia watch live sports 
  • Watching sports live has        more penetration than the second-highest sports consumption activity (attending events and watching sports highlights)
  • Rights holders and broadcasters need more content on social platforms to extend reach;        of consumers watch sports highlights on social media, four points lower than on TV
  • Sports is helping to drive Amazon’s user acquisition; its English Premier League (EPL) coverage pushed UK WAU penetration to        in        2019, up from        from        2018
  • Pure play sports streaming apps are niche: in        2019 in the US, WAU for ESPN+, DAZN and Flosports was               and        respectively
  • Sports appeal is niche, with an average of        watching sports monthly –  more than        points below  film and comedy
  • Sports under-indexes among streaming users: sports is the ninth-most consumed genre among SVOD subscribers; seventh for all consumers
  • NBCUniversal’s big sporting bet is off; Peacock deferred        billion in advertising inventory for its exclusive US coverage of the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic games 
  • Kayo sports is the leading sport-centric streaming service in Australia for weekly engagement, yet has a subscription penetration        smaller than Netflix
  • Canadian consumers report the second-lowest penetration for holding three or more digital subscriptions at        above only Australia at        in        2019
  •        of consumers would reduce spend on a pay-TV subscription via cutting movies or sports packages from their subscription during an economic downturn

Companies and brands mentioned in this report: 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Amazon, Amazon Prime Video, Apple, Bundesliga, Comcast, COVID, Crave TV, DAZN, Discovery, Disney, Disney+, Ditto TV, Eleven Sports, EPL, ESPN, ESPN+, Eurosport Player, Facebook, FIFA, FloSports, Foxtel, GolfTV, illico.TV, Intsagram, iRacing, Kayo Sports, La Liga, Madden, MediaPro, MLB, MLS, MLS, MOTD, Nascar, NBA, NBCUniversal, Netflix, NHL, Peacock, Serie A, Six Nations, UEFA Euro 2020, UFC, US Masters, WWE

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