Cord-cutting kneecaps casual sports fans

With streaming, customers have more choices than ever

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Cord-cutting kneecaps casual sports fans


The Future. With streaming, customers have more choices than ever to curate their viewing experiences and only pay for what they actually watch. But, a new report claims that this change is harmful to sports programming, which partly relies on the “casual viewer” who just flips to whatever game is on for entertainment. While this could just be growing pains during the cord-cutting era, streamers may need to offer innovative features that can truly engage and monetize each sports fan that is watching on these new platforms.

Background fans
According to research firm MoffettNathanson, cable cord-cutting is leaving sports games with fewer fans.

  • In the past, some viewers simply put on a game because of its high-profile nature, or to watch a big name, or just to have something on in the background.
  • But without a cable subscription, audiences need to subscribe to platforms like ESPN+ or Peacock to watch games or big events like the Olympics.
  • That means audiences need to both subscribe to the platform and navigate it to find a game — acts that go against the idea of the “passive viewer.”

Additionally, with many of these platforms having an ad-free option, the traditional sports hype-generator of commercials could be a thing of the past. MoffettNatahanson writes that “Without encountering all those promotional pieces about athletes and events, why would the casual fan care enough to watch? Or, worse, in some cases, how?”

Purpose programming
Once everyone does cut the cord, watching sports may soon become much more deliberate of a choice that only true sports fans will engage in.

MoffettNathanson believes that that kind of audience siloing “reduces the appeal for everyone. Certainly, it erodes the value proposition for younger fans, for whom bonding with friends and family over sports is almost always the hook that starts a lifelong relationship with a team.” Essentially, what do we culturally lose if the game isn’t on in the background on Thanksgiving?

That conclusion is bound to give both sports franchises and advertisers nightmares.


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