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Live Sports Gives Cord Cutters Pause

Live sports programming has arguably been the biggest driver of cable ratings so far this year, with a number of events setting industry and network ratings records.

The popularity of sports content is also causing former pay TV subscribers to think twice about their decision to cut the cord, according to a new Frank N. Magid Associates survey. 

Among consumers who have cut the pay-TV cord within the last two years, but have expressed an interest in subscribing again, 39% say sports channels are a reason to return, according to the survey commissioned by One World Sports. In addition, nine out 10 sports fans surveyed say they watch sports on a television set rather than a mobile device. 

The Internet however, is scoring points with sports fans. The survey reports that 37% of all sports fans say they often watch sports streamed online, while 37% say they watch sports on computers. Another 25% say they watch sports programming on smartphones and tablets.

“Sports remains the most DVR-proof form of video content,” said Alexander “Sandy” Brown, President & CEO of ONE World Sports. “The excitement, immediacy and community around sports contests demand live viewing, whether that viewing takes place via an antenna, or a pay-TV provider, or via a live web stream.” 

Sports fans can watch plenty of sports on various platforms – with a cable subscription. Authenticated cable subscribers can watch most nationally distributed live games through various TV Everywhere outlets from ESPN, Fox Sports 1, NBCSN, One World Sports and other services.

 Other standalone digital offerings, such as Dish’s Sling TV, include some sports networks, but nothing can compare to the multitude of live pro and college team sports, boxing, mixed martial arts and other sports offered as part of a traditional pay TV package. 

“Whatever the format, the findings support that people want to watch sports live, and on the best – typically largest and most crisp – available screen,” added Brown.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.