Roku: Baseball’s Return Hasn’t Slowed Streaming

(Image credit: Roku)

Even the return of baseball can’t stop the momentum toward streaming becoming America's video pastime, according to new stats from Roku.

Roku, based on its internal data, said that about 70% of households that watched baseball in 2019  on linear TV did not watch a single minute of baseball on linear TV during 2020’s delayed opening weekend.

Even among baseball “super fans” – defined as those who watched more than 34 hours of MLB on linear TV last year a third did not watch a single minute of baseball on linear TV during opening week this year, Roku said.

That assertion comes as ESPN reported record ratings for its first televised games and Fox reported viewership nearly doubling.

Roku said that the “massive drop off in audience” is the result of people shifting from pay TV to streaming. 

The loss of sports was the top reason why 1 in 4 cord cutters said they dropped their pay-TV subscriptions. Roku said that in a recent survey, fewer than 1 in 5 users who cut the cord said they would think about returning to cable if sports came back. Those who cut the cord are now happy with their decision, with 92% saying their are very satisfied, according to Roku.

Sports overall are still popular with streamers, even if baseball isn’t.

Comparing opening weekend 2020 to the same weekend in 2019 the amount of sports being streamed increased 49%. 

“The return of MLB was a swing and a miss when it comes to viewership for traditional linear TV as less than one third of baseball’s 2019 household audience tuned in to watch any of the opening week games on linear television,” said Gaurav Shirole, director of audience measurement at Roku,

“A recent consumer survey found that the loss of live sports was a key driver of cord cutting in 2020 which led to nearly 1 in 3 houses in the United States no longer subscribing to a linear cable package," Shirole said. "And now, as sports begin to come back we see those audiences have moved on and found new ways to access their favorite sporting content through streaming.”

(Image credit: Roku)
Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.