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Sports Not the Glue Holding TV Bundles Together

While ESPN is a key element of Sling TV’s core $20 per month OTT service for cord-cutters, sports may not necessarily be the tie that keeps the traditional pay TV bundle bound together, multiscreen specialist Clearleap found in a new consumer survey.

Clearleap, in an online survey of 435 consumers age 18-49 conducted in January, found that only about a third (36.58%) of sports fans would pay $20 or less per month to stream sports without a cable subscription. A much larger group -- 51.34% -- said they wouldn’t pay for such a service at all. Just 8.05% said they’d be willing to pay between $21 to $49 per month, and 4.03% said they’d pay more than $50 per month.

“There isn’t a lot of evidence to support the notion that sports are keeping subscribers tied to the bundle,” Clearleap noted in the study. “Even those respondents who identified as sports fans weren’t overly tied to the bundle because they needed their sports fix – nearly half said they watch plenty of other shows that require a cable subscription.”

The results of the survey “challenge many of the widely held assumptions about what’s keeping many consumers from cutting the cord,” Clearleap said. 

Clearleap’s study also found that fans of the “big three” U.S. sports (football, basketball and baseball) overwhelmingly prefer watching on traditional TV, while soccer and hockey fans were 14% and 13 more likely, respectively, to use streaming players, gaming consoles and mobile devices to watch live sports.

Almost 87% of those surveyed said they use traditional TV (antenna or cable) to watch live sports, compared to a streaming box such as an Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or Roku device (5.4%), a laptop (4.13%), smartphone (2.22%), or a gaming console (1.27%)

Of those surveyed, 57.09% said they have never logged in via their cable provider to watch TV on another device, versus a few times per year (20.76%), at least once per week (7.96%), and at least once per day (6.92%).

Additionally TV shows were the most popular form of TV Everywhere content (51.43%), compared to movies/documentaries  (21.9%), and regularly scheduled sporting events and playoffs (20%). As a side note, FreeWheel, the ad tech firm owned by Comcast, found that sports dominates the live streaming landscape, representing 82% of live video ad views in the first quarter of 2015, versus 11% from news, and 7% from live simulcasts of entertainment-focused content (up from 5% in the previous quarter). 

But according to Clearleap, a company that counts Scripps Networks, A+E Networks, and Time Warner among its clients, found that roughly 45% of sports fans said that they had yet to download a sports-related app. Among those that do, the feature they use the most is accessing final scores (72.67%), followed by game summaries (46%), news from their favorite team (38.67%), and video (30%).