After a year of canceled sports seasons and no live games, fans everywhere have appreciated 2021 for its return to (somewhat) normalcy in terms of watching their favorite sports teams. Something else the time spent in lockdown made viewers realize is just how much cable bills cost.
In a recent survey of more than 1000 sports fans, Lines reports the percentage of viewers watching sports on cable has fallen significantly from pre-pandemic era levels. Before Covid-19, 71% of sports fans watched on cable, down to 66% during the pandemic, and now as low as 49% still have their cable subscription.
What’s more, 74% of sports fans say they plan to cut cable within the next 5 months, while 31% are planning to do so by the end of the year.
MLB fans (76%) are the most likely to cut the cord in the next five months, followed by NBA fans (69%) and NFL fans (66%).
The survey results also revealed that 86% of respondents have used a streaming service to watch sports, and the main reason is because of the friendly price point. In fact, 61% name price as the biggest draw, followed by the wide array of sports channels (55%), and the availability of sports add-ons to their subscriptions (48%). More variety of channels showing specific leagues and DVR space were also reasons viewers prefer streaming sports.
By far, the most popular streaming services used to watch sports included ESPN+ (50%), YouTube TV (45%), and Hulu (33%). ESPN+ was the most popular streaming platform for the NFL (53%), NBA (60%), and MLB (50%). Following YouTube TV, Hulu was more popular with NFL fans (35%) and MLB (35%), compared to the NBA.
Despite taking a slight dip between 2019 and 2020, sports viewership is expected to rise to over 160 million Americans by 2024, and many of them are choosing to use streaming services instead of watching on traditional cable TV.
“Once upon a time, the idea of “cutting the cord” and being able to unsubscribe from cable altogether in favor of streaming services was probably easier said than done. Today, with so many options for streaming platforms and streaming-exclusive content, more people than ever have ditched cable completely.”