Lately there have been several changes in the sports industry regarding live broadcasting rights, and we may still be in the beginning stage of this process. It is becoming more natural to talk about watching live streaming sports rather than watching a full tennis match of 3-5 hours live on TV. The main reasons which explain this process of change are related to the behaviour of the consumer and changes in the dynamics of the market. Each reason is briefly explained below.
The first reason is the behaviour of the younger generation. This newer generation (call it Millennials, generation Z, etc.) is more keen to watch sports through live streaming – either legally or not – than the previous generations. They are also more likely to watch highlights, check scores and news updates on social media, according to a recent research made by McKinsey & Company.
2) Attention span
Since there are so many sports options across so many screens, fans tend to watch fewer games and quit them faster. Furthermore, studies have shown that attention spans have reduced by 50% over the last decade. This should not be a surprise, taking into account that we live in a rapidly changing world and the main causes of loss of attention span are stress and decision overload.
Traditional sports are fighting this in different ways. Tennis, for example, made a different set of rules for the first edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals in order to make the match shorter and more exciting.
3) Digital companies buying media rights
It is no secret that the major digital companies as Facebook, Amazon and Google are slowly making their way into sports media rights. Just in the last two weeks, Facebook made an agreement with MLS (Major League Soccer) to broadcast at least 22 matches of the regular season, and also with MLB (Major League Baseball) for exclusive streaming of 25 Baseball matches.
Moreover, Amazon bought the streaming rights to the NFL’s Thursday night games for this season, and they are also in the bidding for the same rights for next season along with Twitter, YouTube and Verizon. The company led by Jeff Bezos is also discussing the rights for broadcasting the English Premier League.
It seems that these companies are just experimenting and trying to get a grasp of the sports industry before making the first big investment.
4) They are bigger and pay lesser taxes
Compared to the traditional TV broadcasters, the big tech companies are bigger in terms of revenues and pay lesser taxes, which makes them more willing to take on risky investments. Although companies like ESPN and Sky already have established contacts with sports leagues for a while, as TV ratings are decreasing, the leagues will search for innovative alternatives in the tech platforms.
Individually, these factors may not be as relevant, but taking them all into account, we can conclude that live sports will certainly move from traditional TV broadcasters to innovative tech platforms. For now it seems like it is inevitable. However there are a few occasions where the TV will probably resist, for instance, in the typical pub where people watch Football or Rugby, and when people come together with friends at their place to watch a popular Sports event.