Live sports streaming has become the next battleground in the streaming wars, with cable, broadcast, and satellite services all contending for fans. Streaming services are the latest to enter the live sports ring, with entertainment companies and regional sports networks offering a streaming service, and “pure play” streaming providers who have only their streaming service as an option to reach consumers.
The Benefits of Live Sports Streaming
Both streaming providers and sports organizations have much to gain from their growing symbiosis. Many streaming providers are using live sports as a differentiator to help attract and retain subscribers, facing greater competition and more subscriber churn. Fans may get access to even more content related to their favorite sports, such as original shows and documentaries, historical games, associated secondary competitions, etc. Streaming services could also provide new innovations around personalization, interactivity, and real-time data analysis.
ESPN’s Plan to be the Hub of Live Sports Streaming
Disney’s ESPN wants to be the hub for all live sports streaming, even for its competition. ESPN has held conversations with major sports leagues and media partners about launching a feature on ESPN.com and its free ESPN app that will link users directly to where a live sporting event is streaming. The feature could involve global streaming services and direct-to-consumer regional sports network products, and would aim to make ESPN the TV guide of live sports.
The Challenges of Sports Streaming
Sports streaming is a patchwork in which games are spread across services, making it difficult for fans to watch all of their favorite team’s games with only a cable-TV subscription or a digital look-alike. Different leagues have made the streaming leap at different speeds, but they are all moving in the same direction—toward putting more and more games on direct-to-consumer platforms instead of traditional TV.
The Future of Live Sports Streaming
Live sports are headed to streaming services, and audiences are ready, as more than one-third of U.S. homes now access TV programming. The increasing focus on new broadband infrastructure, coupled with Americans’ plans to increase their streaming usage in the coming year, serves as additional evidence that live sports streaming will continue to grow.
Exclusive partnerships are becoming more common in the live sports streaming industry. For example, the National Football League (NFL) has extended its strategic partnership with Genius Sports as the exclusive official NFL data and watch & bet distribution partner. Genius Sports will leverage its machine learning and live streaming technologies to power enhanced viewing experiences for NFL fans through its sportsbook and media partner.
Live sports streaming is shaping up to be the next battleground in the streaming wars. Streaming providers and sports organizations have much to gain from their growing symbiosis, and fans may get access to even more content related to their favorite sports. ESPN wants to be the hub for all live sports streaming, and exclusive partnerships are becoming more common in the industry. As more Americans access TV programming through streaming services, live sports streaming will continue to grow.