As the industry debates the impact that broadband TV will have on traditional pay TV, it’s important to consider how one of the most popular forms of TV content – sports programming – will impact and be impacted by broadband TV.
According to a new market research report from TDG (The Diffusion Group) live sports will play a “defining role” in determining the pace and extent of the ongoing shift from legacy to broadband TV – although to date its role has been minimal.
Despite fans’ obsession and its popularity, live sports are “dramatically under-represented” on broadband as compared to legacy TV, TDG notes in a press release. Two factors explain why, according to Joel Espelien, TDG senior advisor and author of “Game On! The Future of Sports Video Viewing, 2015-2025.”
First are existing long-term agreements between sports leagues and incumbent TV broadcasting companies. Stemming from these is the second factor: fear of upsetting the current value chain.
“Americans love sports and, most would agree, sports is the backbone of the TV industry in general and legacy pay-TV in particular,” Espelien was quoted as saying. “Whether measured in ratings or revenue, TV coverage of live amateur and professional sporting events is big business.
Sports programming will shift toward broadband TV over the next 10 years, TDG says. The researchers forecast per-capital broadband sports video viewing to grow 10-fold between 2014 and 2025 — from less than half an hour to four hours weekly.
Growth in broadband distribution of live sports will present significant challenges and opportunities to TV industry stakeholders, TDG continues. That includes sports leagues, networks, and MVPDs (legacy and virtual).
“The big money that defines sports programming,” Espelien comments, “will follow consumers, viewers who engage broadband sports on all screens, not just the living room TV.”