Although many industry players are predicting the impending demise of cable, linear television providers continue to hang on. Older viewers still prefer linear TV over streaming, especially for watching live sports.
However, fewer and fewer homes in the United States are using linear methods to access television. According to a new survey by media research giant Nielsen, more than a third of national households now access television entirely through the internet. In 2014, just eight years ago, this figure was 2.5%
Sports leagues have not hesitated to take advantage of this growing market segment. The NFL has moved from “Thursday Night Football” to a streaming-only format on Prime Video, and its NFL Sunday Ticket out-of-market game package is almost certain to be a streaming-only product in the 2023 season and beyond. of the. At least half of current Sunday Ticket subscribers will follow the package wherever it goes, and the likelihood of attracting new customers is high.
Indeed, Americans are increasingly comfortable watching sports online. Nielsen figures indicate that nearly 90% of American football fans are comfortable streaming games, which is good news for Apple TV+. This service has signed a 10-year contract to broadcast all Major League Soccer matches from 2023.
But the real cash cow of the sports streaming world has been – and will continue to be – professional football. The Prime Video-“TNF” experience had mixed results from a technical standpoint, but, from a ratings standpoint, it was a resounding success. The first three “TNF” games of the 2022 season drew far more viewers than each of the seven Thursday games of last year aired only on the NFL Network.
This is the first year that Nielsen has incorporated a streamer into its nationwide TV ratings measurement system, and Amazon must be thrilled with the future implications of its numbers. The NFL’s broadcast deals with linear TV providers last through at least the 2032 season, so customers shouldn’t expect all games to become streaming-only anytime soon. But if the league feels ready to take that step a decade from now, it will be because the numbers show the public is ready to accept a streaming-only NFL.