Sports Are Back, But Cable Customers Are Not

Sports are back, without fans in attendance, but it appears traditional TV fans are absent as well.

Just one week ago, we posed the question of whether live sports would bring streamers back to cable. We already have an answer, and it’s not good news for traditional television at least when it comes to baseball.

More than 25% of cord cutters so far in 2020 said the loss of live sports was their number one reason for leaving cable. When asked by Roku how they felt about their decision, 92% of users who cut cable this year said they were “very satisfied.” So with live sports back in action, are subscribers returning too? Not really. 

Out of homes that watched any baseball action on linear television in 2019, 70% didn’t watch a single minute of baseball’s opening weekend return on linear TV, and out of baseball “super fans” (people who watched more than 34 hours of MLB on linear TV in 2019), 33% didn’t return for this year’s opening weekend on linear. 40% of “superfans” didn’t want basketball opening weekend, 56% of NHL “superfans” didn’t tune in for the hockey league’s return.

Which brings us to this question: are these fans simply done with baseball and they’re not tuning in for a shortened season or have they just abandoned cable and found other ways to consume sports? Some more data from Roku tells the story.

From opening weekend 2019 to opening weekend 2020, the amount of sports being streamed actually increased 49%. This tells us that sports fans are still there, they’re just tuning in through other methods. 

“For sports fans, even super fans, the hold traditional pay TV once had over their viewing behaviors has undergone an accelerated evolution during the past 6 months as millions of households cut the cord and explored new ways of accessing their preferred content via streaming,” said Roku’s Director of Audience Measurement Gaurav Shirole. “More than 80% of cord cutters say they will not return to traditional pay TV even as sports return and we are seeing these numbers play out during the first summer opening weekends for the MLB, NBA and NHL as a majority of Roku households that watched traditional pay TV sports previously did not return to watch on their cable and satellite provider in 2020. At the same time, these households have significantly increased the amount of sports they stream.”

This data comes from a study done by Roku.

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