BY Nathaniel Mata | SPORTS EDITOR
It is a good thing it’s harder to lose the mouse of your computer than the remote for your TV.
Entertainment is moving to the web in a huge way. The best TV exclusives are on Netflix; if not, they are on HBO (with streaming capabilities). In 2014, the movie industry had its worst year in two decades for people attending theaters, according to CinemaBlend.com.
The industry that felt for a long time completely untouchable by streaming’s popularity is live sports. Sports aren’t something that can be pushed aside by the business models of companies like Netflix.
It still may be the industry that is the most resilient to business. Sports generate revenue from many different areas, like merchandise, ticket sales and league fees. TV, however, remains the largest piece of the pie when it comes down to money in sports. According to AdAge.com, the deal between the National Hockey League and NBC is the lowest in the U.S., sitting at a cool $2 billion.
ESPN is paying $7.3 billion through 2025 to air the college football playoff.
Just because TV networks are paying outrageous fees to broadcast games live doesn’t mean the format in which the action is delivered will remain constant.
Every eyeball counts when it comes to sports viewership. The billion-dollar TV deals happen because advertisers know that sports are the only true reality television. As long as games are unpredictable and free of scripts, they will continue to be the epitome of must-watch entertainment.
Fox, which has its hands on rights for the National Football League, college football, college basketball and Major League Baseball is a big streamer. Its service, Fox Sports Go, can be cast to televisions, laptops or phones using its website, although a cable or satellite subscription is still necessary.
ESPN’s approach is similar but also offers partial service to those not connected to a cable or satellite company, at cost.
Reports are conflicting regarding how fast people are abandoning their TV providers. Some say it’s a slow and gradual decline, while other data from eMarketer, a market research company, states that by 2019 nearly a quarter of Americans won’t have any subscription.
These “cable-cutters” are the demographic to look out for. ESPN already caters to them by offering its proprietary service. Being able to watch on mobile devices, or game consoles, helps extend the reach of live sports even without conventional means.
Now even sources that don’t usually play into the equation of broadcasting sports are vying for a piece of the pie. Twitter announced this week that it will allow users (with and without accounts) to stream 10 live NFL games over the course of the season.
To me it just feels like a small step toward the future, where the apps we use to talk about sports will soon be used to also view them.
Amazon, the largest shopping space on the web, also has expressed interest in getting into the streaming sports world.
For fans of sports, and fans of ditching the cable or satellite company, the competition for the streaming space should excite you. Many cable-cutters are reluctant to give up their sports but it seems like soon you’ll be able to have the best of both worlds.