nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

CandW discuss sports waning power in the pay TV bundle

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Multiple news stories this week show that the cost of sports continues to increase, even as its power to hold pay TV subscribers declines. How long can this situation go on?

Chapter 1: Sports content half of pay TV license costs (1:30)

SNL Kagan reports that sports is now half of the amount pay TV operators must pay for content. ESPN is once again the market leader, with almost every subscriber paying $7.35 a month for access to the channels. This could even be higher if you include the amount passed through to operators by broadcasters like CBS that license NFL games.

Chapter 2: Millennials love of sport fading? (9:30)

ESPN is still the top network among millennials, as it is with all other age groups. However, the number of 18-34-year-olds watching the channel has fallen 18% over the last year. As well, NFL game viewing is still much lower than last year, despite the fact that the election distraction is over.

Chapter 3: Sport driving cord-cutting in 2017? (13:00)

Will makes the point that sport is facing competition for time from all the great online originals. There is simply too much to watch. When you consider that it is still relatively difficult to watch premium sports online, this should be very worrying to league and team owners. Could these two factors conspire to boost cord-cutting in the new year?

Chapter 4: DirecTV playing at high and low ends of the market (15:00)

Though sports viewing is waning, the costs of sport continue to drive up the pay TV bundle. DirecTV announced more price increases for its satellite subscribers. It will also be increasing the amount charged for regional sports networks by $2.36 a month.

Chapter 5: Reduced NFL ad load enough? (17:00)

Will says the NFL is talking about reducing the number of ads in the games. This could be in response to ad-free services like Netflix. It is significant that a viewer can binge view 4 episodes of a hit show like Stranger Things in the time it takes to watch one NFL game. I suggest the NFL has a bigger problem than that. The games are too slow, with too many breaks in the play, and that three or four hours is too long for many to watch.

Chapter 6: Sports not DVR proof (18:20)

I discuss new data from Thuuz looking at DVR usage by sports fans. The common belief is that most sport is watched live. Thuuz data suggests more than 80% of fans actually DVR the games.


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