Will Live Sports Send Cord Cutters Back to Cable?

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 led to a huge spike in the streaming industry, but there’s a looming threat to those services that have been booming for the past few months – live sports.

After months without live sports on TV, MLB recently began shortened season last week, the NHL and NBA are getting ready to start their seasons, and pro and college football seasons (if they happen) are less than two months away – all returns that are expected to draw record ratings. 

And while streaming services cover every genre, including sports, it’s not always easy to find your favorite team on a service you subscribe to.

That’s why some “cord-nevers,” or people who have never paid for a television subscription, are expected to start doing so in the next few weeks for the first time.

Laura Martin, senior analyst for entertainment at Needham & Co, projects that the return of live sports would lead to “higher linear TV sub adds in the second half, including by cord-nevers.” And a number of those subscribers, Martin said, would cancel streaming service to pay for their new television package.

“We believe that the return of seven pro sports in July and August plus the NFL in September suggests higher linear TV sub adds in the second half, including by cord-nevers, and higher subscriber churn for streaming services,” Martin said.

While there’s plenty of debate about whether or not sports can safely return or if they’re even important right now, there are billions of dollars at stake, so there’s plenty of pressure to get games underway. 

And if sports return, people will want to watch.

Just how many people? A recent survey from Morning Consult showed that about 27% of the popular considered themselves a sports fan with 38% more considering themselves a casual sports fan. That equals 65% of the population or in excess of 330 million viewers. 

Are all of those going to tune in? Of course not. But with news content being the only “new” programming over the past few months, you can bet a lot of them will. A recent PGA charity match piled up an incredible 5.8 million viewers (compared to their usual viewership of just 1 million). 

It’s clear that people are hungry for live sports to come back, and with the action finally starting, many fans will be paying to see it.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

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