Live Sports is a Big Reason Why People Hold on to Pay TV

Although cord-cutting is on the rise, many people are hanging on to their old pay-TV subscriptions for one thing: Live Sports. New data from Parks and Associates shows that 55% of pay-TV households consider Live Sports an important factor in the decision to keep their pay-TV service up and running.

Over half of pay-TV households rate live sports as a 6-7 on the importance scale, meaning they’re Very Important to the viewer when it comes to cable TV.

Parks Associates: Impact of Live Sports on Value Perception of Pay-TV Service

“The churn rate for pay-TV services continues to trend significantly lower than the rate for OTT services,” said Steve Nason, Research Director, Parks Associates. “This is fortunate given the lack of live sports in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past year, churn rates for OTT and vMVPD services both declined as consumers turn more and more to online video sources for their entertainment.”

The turn to online sources for Live Sports showed up in a major way during Super Bowl LV. While the game was only watched by 96.4 million viewers across all platforms (the lowest Super Bowl viewership since 2007), the 2021 game was still the most-watched programming of the past year and the most live-streamed game in history, with an average of 5.7 million viewers per minute. That number is up 69% from 2020.

If streaming services want to continue to compete with pay TV services, it looks like sports are the key. While regional sports networks are expensive for services to carry, it’s also what viewers are looking for. If services can bring back those channels, we’ll likely see even more cable subscribers cut the cord and make the move to streaming.