Olympics Rush to Streaming but Sports SVODs Need to Team up to Compete

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The Olympics will have a seismic impact on the U.S. streaming market this summer with over a quarter of all SVOD subscribers signing up to a new streaming service just to watch the Games from Paris, according to new research.
However, this masks structural challenges for sports streamers as a combination of diverse broadcasting rights, disjointed platforms, and rising prices is driving demand for more centralized services.
A vast majority (87%) of those paying for sports VOD subscriptions are calling for a single "content hub" to centralize all of their sports subscriptions (and more) into one place, per the survey from online payment platform Bango.
Its report, based on a poll of 2,000 sports VOD subscribers and 3,000 general subscribers, could be good news for NBCUniversal’s Peacock which secured the rights to stream the Paris Olympic Games this July.
It finds that one in four American subscribers (29%) will sign up to a new streaming service to watch the Olympics this July. For those who already pay for at least one sports VOD streaming platform, this figure jumps to a 66%.
There is a halo effect around sports and major live events. Ampere Analysis found that SVODs holding NFL rights versus those without showed big gains in Q1 2024 related to football coverage and the 49ers vs. Chiefs Super Bowl.
Paramount+ and Peacock, which both show football, saw the number of U.S. internet users claiming to use their platform grow by 22% and 18% respectively over this period, and this monthly active viewing rose even further among NFL fans, with Paramount+ shooting up 30% and Peacock 28%. Amazon Prime Video, which also shows football, saw big gains of 59% from the same fanbase, according to the research.
NBCU will be hoping Peacock exhibits the same boost when streaming the Paris Olympics.
Despite this high market value however, Bango’s analysis also points to challenges in the sports streaming space. Sports VOD subscribers are found to adopt more subscriptions—seven per person on average compared to a US average of five. With content spread across multiple services the sports VOD market is described as “like a relay race” for subscribers, with the onus on customers “to pass the baton from one subscription to the next.”
This group is also willing to pay significantly more for those services. According to Bango’s analysis, the average sports VOD subscriber pays a massive $1,440 per year for all of their subscription services — $120 per month. In contrast, the average US subscriber pays just $77 per month (66% less).
Over half of sports VOD subscribers told Bango they can’t afford all the subscriptions they want. Instead, over a third (37%) regularly pause, cancel and re-subscribe to different services to keep costs down. Nearly three quarters said there are too many different subscription services needed to cover the sports they’re interested in.
Price rises such as ESPN+ rise by one dollar, from $9.99 to $10.99/month, last fall, don’t help. “As some of the highest value customers in the subscription service market, sports fans are a lucrative audience worth acquiring and retaining. But with higher costs come higher expectations, and there’s only so far that subscribers can be pushed before they hit the unsubscribe button,” the report states.
Recent months have also seen a crackdown on password sharing, with platforms like ESPN+ and YouTube (home of the NFL Sunday Ticket) forcing viewers to pay for services they previously accessed for free.
What’s more, many subscribers are now paying for subscriptions that go unused, with 63% admitting to holding onto services they no longer engage with, per the research. And to make matters worse, sports fans don’t want ads to get in the way of the action. Of respondents to this report 71% have upgraded a subscription to remove ads, while 79% “firmly believe” that paid subscriptions should never include ads, viewing this as a breach of trust by already premium streaming services.
These factors have conspired to drive a concerning trend towards piracy. Over half (55%) of sports subscribers surveyed say they view pirated streams as “the best way” to watch and manage all their content in one place which is double the average among US subscribers.
“When half of all sports fans admit to online piracy, you know something’s gone wrong,” says Paul Larbey, CEO at Bango. “Clearly there’s a huge demand for sports streaming, but the current lack of centralization is undermining this incredibly valuable market.”
A centralized realignment of the streaming sports market is happening. The most heavyweight of which is the imminent arrival of WarnerBros. Discovery and Fox and Disney/ESPN’s all-in-one sports app (being dubbed "Spulu").
Bango say further super bundles are inevitable, and points to telcos as the glue to bind services together. That’s no surprise when considering that Bango offers a SaaS product that enables the Super Bundling of content subscriptions for telcos like Verizon. Subscribers are apparently “crying out” for telcos to take control of the disjointed subscription market.
Said Larbey, “Sports fans are willing to pay to watch the content they are interested in, and the reality is that this content will come from different providers. As a result, sports fans want to simplify this arrangement through easy billing and control of subscriptions. And they want flexibility and the ability to build their own bundles.”

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