- 63% of households have a smart TV
- Sports streaming revenues will increase by 73% over next five years
- There are more than 50 niche sports OTT services in the US
Nearly nine in ten US households (87 per cent) subscribe to at least one streaming service, while almost two-thirds (63 per cent) own a smart TV, according to research by Parks Associates.
Rising digital literacy, the rollout of superfast broadband and the launch of mainstream direct-to-consumer (DTC) services from major networks have driven a major transformation in consumption habits.
The US streaming market is fiercely competitive with services from traditional media giants NBC, CBS, Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) and Disney competing with digitally-native platforms like Amazon, Apple TV+ and Netflix. Meanwhile, aggregators like FuboTV, Hulu and YouTube TV offer a similar proposition to cable.
Sport has been a popular acquisition tool in a competitive marketplace. Amazon has partnered with the National Football League (NFL), Apple has a wide-ranging deal with Major League Soccer (MLS), and Peacock has absorbed the WWE Network. There are also more than 50 sports-specific over-the-top (OTT) platforms.
“Sport media rights holders want to get games in front of as many eyes as possible,” said Jennifer Kent, vice president of research at Parks Associates.
“The audience reach of online-only and streaming services is enormous. To compete with the digital titans, media conglomerates with conventional and online services are shifting finances and resources to launch, improve, and develop streaming services targeted at sports fans.”
A separate study by intelligence firm Parks Associates predicts annual sports streaming subscription revenue in the US will increase by 73 per cent from US$13.1 billion in 2022 to US$22.6 billion in 2027.
This shift has been supported and accelerated by a maturing hardware and software ecosystem. Smartphone makers, television manufacturers and dedicated vendors like Roku have all devoted significant resources to the development of their respective platforms.
“Smart TVs are part of the modern home; this device will be a key element of an integrated whole-home entertainment vision going forward,” said Elizabeth Parks, president at Parks Associates.
“New applications and integration are bringing together the smart home and entertainment ecosystems to further monetise its user base and have more control of the data in the home.”
US sports fans are typically well-served by free-to-air (FTA) television, with the country’s huge population and localised networks able to deliver the audiences and targeted advertising necessary to support premium sports rights without an additional subscription.
However, pay-TV has traditionally been dominated by cable companies who offer bundles of channels that mean subscribers pay for channels they don’t want. With many markets served by a single operator, the only alternative has been satellite services like DirecTV.
This helps to explain why the US has been so ready to ‘cut the cord’ and embrace streaming – even if the advent of services combining multiple sports and genres means the bundle has not truly gone away.
Linear might still have unparalleled reach, as the ratings for the NFL playoffs illustrate, but rightsholders know that opting for OTT distribution no longer means sacrificing exposure.