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Survey Says: Sports & News Driving Live Linear Adoption

Learn more about live linear and OTT market and viewership trends at Streaming Media East 2020.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Jonathan Hurd: We do this survey every summer, as I mentioned. This year, video is focused on sports and news. But we get into a lot of detail around things like pay TV subscribership, viewership of sports and news, what sports people are fans of, what they participate in, how much they value certain leagues, teams, or players, and what's really driving that. And also the impact of betting. A wide variety of topics.

And one of the most important things to look at is, when we ask people who subscribe to pay TV, that's live pay TV, like a cable subscription, or even a virtual MVPD, as they're called, subscription to something like Sling TV, why do you stay with that? Why do you keep subscribing, rather than just going to online video, or on-demand video? And the top reason, far and away, is, "Live news is important to me." Thirty percent say "Strongly Agree," and another 35% say "Agree." And sports has 23% saying it's "Strongly Agree," and another 26% say "Agree." And then you see other reasons, like, "I want to watch new TV episodes when they're first broadcast." That's actually, you know, 62%, when you include all the "Agrees." That would be things like, you know, The Masked Singer, or whatever it is, or if you have to see that Game of Thrones episode when it's first aired. But you can see the other reasons kind of fall off a bit.

So, sports and news, very important to the pay TV experience, and the anchor of the pay TV subscription. And then, what's really interesting is the correlation of regular sports and news viewers to their pay TV adoption. So, the dark blue here is traditional pay TV subscribers, and you could see, of the 45% on the left, that are regular sports and news viewers, 81% of them subscribe to a traditional TV service, and another 10% to a virtual MVPD service. So, it's 91% who are subscribing to pay TV.

On the far right are the people that don't watch sports and news. It's 21% of the population, and that's only about half, 51% subscribe to a live pay TV service. So, there's a very strong correlation between viewership of sports and news and pay TV subscription status. But it's not all age ranges that have the same level of interest. So, when we ask, "How frequently do you watch sports?" not surprisingly, there's a big difference between men and women on regular sports viewership. So, about two-thirds of men say they're regular sports viewers, and only about 41% of women say they are regular sports viewers.

Looking across the age ranges, it's roughly the same across all age ranges. A little bit lower for 55-plus, but sports viewership is very correlated to income. So, on the far right, you can see, less than 25K annual income is the lowest, and then it creeps up across income levels to 150K-plus, about two-thirds are regular sports viewers. Now, contrast that with news. How frequently do you watch the news? Well, look at the big difference in age range. So, 18 to 24-year olds, much lower than 55-plus. Eighty-one percent of people who are 55-plus say they are regular news viewers. And with income level, a little bit of correlation with income, but really not all that much. So, we're getting some insight here into, you know, who is it that's watching sports and news.

And one of the other things that we did in our survey, was, we put in a simulation capability. We do this a lot with our clients, where we say, "What's the value of programing?" We do that by removing programing from different offers and seeing what the impact is on subscribership level. And, in this case, we set up a simulator so that we could remove certain sports and news altogether, to see what would happen. So, on the right is the current state of the world with all programing included.

So, about 79% of households subscribe to pay TV. Another 10% subscribe to subscription video on demand services like Netflix, but not pay TV. And then, about 11% of the population doesn't subscribe to either. So, you could see, that is the base. If you start removing things, you exclude news, you get a bit of a drop. You exclude sports, you get a very significant drop. And if you remove sports and news together, that cuts it down to about 52% of households subscribing to pay TV.

And then, we also ran a simulation on the far right here. If sports and news were the only thing available live on pay TV, what does that look like? It said about two-thirds of households would still subscribe. So, all that other live stuff, you know, the live channels like, again, these events, Bachelorette, Bachelor, Masked Singer, whatever, they really have some impact, but it's sports and news that are really driving a lot of adoption.

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