According to new research by cloud video specialists, Grabyo, sports fans are watching more live sport on their smartphones and connected devices than they do on TV, despite the majority of sports media rights being held by linear broadcasters.
Reinforcing the notion that the over-the-top (OTT) generation is upon us, the report claims that although 50 per cent of fans watch sport via a satellite or pay-TV subscription, more than 60 per cent view sports content via an OTT or premium social media service.
Netflix is largely responsible for the adoption of online streaming and statistics show the streaming giant has now hit 54 per cent global market penetration, a figure which rises to an average of 61 per cent within predominantly English-speaking countries.
Compared to other genres such as TV series, films, news and documentaries, sport represents the most popular form of content watched by digital-only consumers, with 41 per cent choosing streamed sports content over linear broadcasts.
In Australia, OTT services have achieved an overall 51% market penetration, with local services such as 7 Plus, 9 Now and 10 Play averaging over 23% uptake among Australians.
Overall, Grabyo’s research found that the global market penetration of OTT services has hit 38 per cent, with DAZN and Kayo Sports cited as the most popular dedicated sports streaming platforms used by fans.
“Cord-cutting will become more commonplace, as broadcasters and publishers focus their efforts on capturing the vast online audiences,” Grabyo’s chief executive, Gareth Capon, said.
“As the breadth of content availability increases, consumers will have options to move away from broadcast pay-TV, without sacrificing access to their favourite shows or sporting events.
“This trend will continue as sports federations, TV networks and new digital publishers launch direct-to-consumer services over the top.
“Broadcasters will lose the dominant position of aggregators to (DTC) TV services and will not be able to control access for consumers as was common in the pay-TV era.”
The report goes on to say that social media platforms such as Facebook Watch, Twitter and YouTube TV are also capitalising on the growing demand for streaming options, linking the growth in short-form video, real-time highlights and viral video consumption to the widespread adoption of social media use on smartphones.
Evidence of this trend can already be seen in the number of social platforms now entering into mainstream media rights partnerships, with the likes of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all signing content licensing deals in recent years.
With this in mind, broadcasters can no longer consider OTT and online streaming as a secondary consideration, with Grabyo pointing to Disney+ and HBO Max – two broadcaster-owned OTT services that are among a wave of new entrants to the streaming market – as proof that traditional media owners are changing tack.
“OTT services are moving into the mainstream and are set to become the primary destination for video viewing in most markets,” Capon added.
“Traditional broadcasters need to evolve TV services to reflect the viewing preferences of modern consumers.
“Organisations such as the BBC are successfully transitioning the TV offering to raise the profile and primacy of streaming and OTT services, but more is needed to enable consumers to watch what they want, whenever they want to.
“The traditional TV schedule is becoming less and less relevant for many demographic groups and with the upcoming launch of major new OTT services from Disney, HBO and Apple this year, the pressure on the traditional TV model will increase.
“OTT enables choice, flexibility and better value for consumers, we should expect the growth of these services to continue to accelerate.”
The full report can be downloaded from Grabyo here