The Changing Dynamic in Sports Viewership

By  //  March 1, 2021

Sports viewership is soaring. While some have predicted the demise of sports, broadcasters and startups have come up with new ways to engage the public and bring it a quality entertainment product. 

Part of this has been the integration of ancillary services into sports broadcasts, making for far more entertaining resulting products. For example, DraftKings and ESPN have come with prediction games to keep interest in a sports game stoked, and so have many others.

Streaming services such as fuboTV and DAZN are edging closer to launching new solutions that bring on-demand sports as well as create new channels to engage with the general public.

With dynamic changes happening in sports viewership, being on the move is a winning strategy for many broadcasters and streaming services.

Sports Viewership Will Be about Quality

With ESPN openly entering into sports and DAZN making its offer available worldwide, sports fans will expect quality above all else. Products in the 21st century cannot make mistakes and production value should be high enough to satisfy even the fussiest spectator.

The use of drone, special panels and commentary to boost engagement and immersion are key priorities for all broadcasters, who are spending a pretty penny trying to improve the quality of their productions continuously.

More imaginative solutions are arriving all the time. Entain, formerly known as GVC Holdings, struck a partnership with media company Verizon in December 2020, GamblingNews editor-in-chief Mike Johnson reported.

The partnership was an interesting alliance between a media company focusing on sports and entertainment broadcasts and a leading sports betting firm.

Commenting on this partnership, Entain departing chief executive Shay Segev said that the combined efforts of the two companies would bring a new, more social and immersive viewer experience, bringing people closer together.

Yet, the adoption of higher quality products is not just it. Consumers are now steadily heading for VR and AG solutions as well, and how fast broadcasts will be transformed into a virtual reality experience depends on how soon this technology can be commoditized.

2. On Demand Services Will Prevail

The TV has long been the center of any sports broadcast but in the 2020s this is going to change dramatically. While cable providers have struggled to keep up so far, this new decade should put them in a position whether they either must adapt and evolve or face the risk of elimination.

Without any doubt, live streaming services will amass a lot of momentum, and a huge part of that will be owing to sports. As has been said before, sports are the “Crown Jewel,” of streaming video services.

It’s enough to look at the numbers in the United States where 43% of all cable subscribers have paid for a sub to watch their favorite sports. Yet, cable often offers inferior experience as it limits what games you can watch.

On-demand sports streaming solutions will solve this allowing you to watch the entire round of games on your own time and without missing a moment of the action if you wish not to.

3. ESPN Got It Right with Panels

ESPN was one of the coyest cable networks and long averse to the idea of running too much coverage that may send the wrong message. With the legalization of sports betting in the United States, ESPN has decided to add value not just to the betting ecosystem, but also the way it covers sports.

Already demonstrating strong engagement and success with sports fans even before 2018, ESPN has been opening new studios to bring new sports experiences to viewers. It has also been inviting a lot of sports personalities on its panels to boost engagement.

It’s one thing when you have a journalist talking, but another thing when the NFL and NBA legends are sitting down to talk to you one-on-one through the telly screen and tell you how they see the game as someone who has spent a fair bit of time playing.

ESPN’s strength lies in its great data solutions that are provided to sports fans in real-time, boosting engagement and inviting, partially, people to bet on sports, which his another way to engage with crowds.

4. Watching Sports Will Be about Betting

Sports betting is one of the main drivers of engagement. While there is still not much proof that NFL gaming has boosted viewership, engagement has improved significantly. The wagering industry in the United States is only getting started, and that is a good thing.

With some 20-odd legalized sports betting states and at least seven planning legalization this year, or attempting to, the ecosystem for United States sports betting is surely expanding quickly enough.

The key upside of this is that sports, which suffered declining viewership for years now, have been reinvigorated by the interest from new audiences who find it entertaining and worthwhile to watch games when they have money bet on.

5. In-Stadium Attendance Has Its Place

Live viewership may sound like a thing of the past, but despite technological advances, watching sports live will continue to be a determining factor in the way we consume sports moving forward. No number of on-demand streams can quite make-up for watching games in-person.

The Super Bowl stadiums will be always packed and so would College Bowls, March Madness, and the Stanley Cup Finals. It’s just the way sports fandom comes together and appreciates live games.

While you won’t see the most flattering things written out there about attendance, live is going to remain an integral part of sports. The events of 2020 allowed everyone to see sports in perspective and precisely what it would mean not to have live crowds cheering for their teams.

The pent-up demand for live attendance has resonated even with people who aren’t that big of sports buffs in the first place. Sports viewership is undergoing some significant changes. With traditional sports facing some difficulties, they have emerged from 2020 even stronger and readier to take on the challenges of the new decade.