Sports Fans Might Pay for Over-The-Top Games

Sports fans love their games so much they will be willing to pay to support an over-the-top offering, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg and ThePostGame, says when someone creates an all-sports over-the-top subscription channel, 63% of all sports fans are interested in paying for one. The number is even higher—70%—for households with children and 78% for people who describe themselves as intense sports fans.

Those intense sports fans will buy 3.5 sports channels.

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The study also found that 90% of all fans are willing to pay something for sports. Those in the 15-year-old to 36-year-old bracket said they were willing to pay the most, while older sports fans, who grew up in a time when games aired on free TV, would pay the least.

“Sports is the last category of must-see-now content. Based on our data, genZ and millennial fans are clearly shifting preferences, behavior and spending,” said Jeffrey Cole, founder and director of the Center for the Digital Future.

More people are watching programming via streaming and some are cutting the cord. Sports programming, while expensive, is seen as one of the main reasons people keep their cable subscriptions.

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Sports fans are willing to pay more for online streaming channels than for cable or satellite channels, and 56% say there are willing to spend a higher proportion of their budget per month on online streaming channels.

Sports fans aren’t just men. The stereotypical football widow has become a sports fan, with some 80% of women self-identifying as sports fans. And they are willing to pay up to 50% more for some types of sports content and media platforms.

Most sports fans don’t hate ads, and some younger sports fans find it useful.

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Most sports fans are either neutral (44%) or positive (12%) when asked if advertising enhances or detracts from their sports viewing experience.  Of those under 18 years old, 21% says advertising around sports enhances their sports viewing experience.

The remaining 44% of sports fans says advertising detracts from their experience. The majority of those irritated by advertising are in the 69-year-old to 74-year-old bracket.

Sports fans prefer television commercials aired during commercial breaks to other approaches, such as in-game graphics or on-air mentions.

Millennials say they like advertising during sports programming and tend to watch it. And more than 50% say they believe advertising gives them “useful information about products and services."

Mobile devices are tied with computers as the second-most popular devices for consuming sports content behind TVs. The youngest viewers, 65% of generation Z and the younger millennial sports fans, are consuming sports on a mobile device.

The survey was conducted between Jan 6 and Feb. 2 of 1,005 people. The margin of error is 3.15.

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.