Survey says: Sports fans frustrated with fragmentation, desire new streaming features

With live sports rights marking a shift to streaming and games scattered across different apps, services and platforms, a new survey from Deloitte has put some figures to consumers’ desire for a less fragmented sports landscape, while also zeroing in on ways streamers can enhance the viewing experience.

In Deloitte’s survey of more than 3,000 U.S. sports fans ages 14 and up, 30% said they had paid for a subscription service to watch a sporting event in the last 12 months – increasing to 46% of Millennial fans. However, with a bevy of options, nearly half said they had missed a game they wanted to watch because they didn’t have the right streaming service, while 44% said they had to subscribe to too many services to watch sports. Most fans (59%) said they would pay extra for a streaming video service that had all of the sports they want to watch in one place – with that figure jumping to 70% for Gen Z and 80% for Millennials.

“Streaming providers want to use live sports as a differentiator to help attract and retain subscribers. Sports organizations want to further monetize their rights, expand reach, and pursue younger consumers. This market expansion presents exciting opportunities for fans, but before these services can reach their potential, there are points of friction to consider,” Deloitte noted in the report.

Some streaming services have been working to aggregate the sports viewing experience, such as Roku which last year debuted a Sports Experience hub that surfaces sports programming and live events across a variety of services – and just on Tuesday announced its own first-ever live sports deal, with plans to air 11 Formula E races on The Roku Channel next season.

And while cable and broadcast still dominate for sports viewing (survey respondents reported roughly 60% time spent watching sports at home is on cable or broadcast, compared to 22% of the time viewed on streaming), many find a superior viewing experience on streaming.

Questioned about watching a sporting event on a specific SVOD service, 56% of fans said they had a better viewing experience on streaming than on cable or broadcast TV, with around half saying the experience was more interactive and personalized. Top reasons cited for a better experience include: easy to find (42%), video quality (17%) and the ability to watch on a wide range of devices (15%)

Deloitte sports fan survey June 2023
56% of fans said they had a better viewing experience on streaming than on cable or broadcast TV. (Deloitte)

Streamers that are bringing sports to their platforms to attract and retain subscribers could also benefit from incorporating new features as Deloitte found sports fans are interested in an enhanced SVOD sports experience. Top features fans want integrated as part of their SVOD service include real-time stats and analytics (35%) and different camera angles (34%). For Gen Z and Millennials, roughly 30% in each of the age demos also cited watching from an athlete’s point of view and co-viewing with friends and family as features they’d like to see. Of less interest were a live social feed on-screen and integrated shopping or betting capabilities.

Deloitte sports survey features graph _ June 2023

When it comes to features like real-live stats, Deloitte found many fans, particularly younger ones, are already multi-tasking while watching sports at home. Per the survey, 77% reported performing another sports-related activity when watching, with top activities including looking up stats, using social media and watching another game on a separate device. YouTube TV is one virtual MVPD that’s recently started rolling out a multi-view feature for certain channel feeds, including sports, allowing viewers to watch multiple streams simultaneously on one screen. YouTube TV is also gearing up for its stream of the popular NFL Sunday Ticket package, which it scored exclusive rights to in December.

Sports-focused virtual MVPD Fubo, meanwhile, which previously introduced multi-view capabilities, has said it plans to introduce refreshed apps this fall that leverage AI and computer vision tech from its 2021 acquisition. Speaking on the company’s first quarter earnings call Fubo CEO David Gandler said the streamer is working on instant highlights, including DVR features where users could go into a specific view and see different plays and game highlights.

“Think about condensed games within your DVR, where we’ll be leveraging all of our AI opportunities there,” Gandler said in May.  “And then as part of that, when you’re watching games, you might also receive some type of alert that there’s a game that’s on that might also have some very compelling moments to watch, and those will also be part of your DVR instant highlight opportunities.”

And TVs are still the primary device for sports fans, who report using them 74% of the time on average to watch live sports events from home. That percentage drops to 58% for Gen Z and 61% for Millennials, who are leaning on mobile devices, laptops and tablets for the remaining time.