Streaming. Problematic with sports, or the future?

Today is the first time that Eagles fans can call themselves champions.

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As a self-proclaimed “football guy” I was glued to the screen the moment the coverage began on Sunday afternoon. I had put in my bets with friends about the spread and of course had my family boxes (squares) that I was hoping to hit. Personally, unless my team is in the Super Bowl, my favorite part is the prop bets. From whether the national anthem is shorter or longer than two minutes, the coin toss, the color of the Gatorade that’s poured on the winning coach, to which player scores the first touchdown, what song Justin Timberlake would open with, and the under/over on how many times President Trump will tweet during the game. Although I lost pretty much every bet (I’m an awful gambler), it made the game that much more exciting. Maria does a really job covering the gambling aspect of the Super Bowl in her blog. Additionally, I will not be disclosing the team I root for, but let’s just say either way this Super Bowl was a lose-lose. All else aside, I’ve been consistently reading about how football is a dying sport. I was curious if this is because of the brutal violent nature, or due to how people watch television now.

 

Streaming, although relatively new to the world in terms of history, it is now the normal way people watch the content they want to see. It’s here, it’s now, it’s mobile. For example, most people see a preview of a movie and have to wait six months to see it in theaters. Today, a preview for “The Cloverfield Paradox” was aired as a commercial to promote the film and Netflix.

After the Super Bowl ended, it was available to Netflix subscribers immediately on its platform. Ten years ago, people would have laughed in your face if you told them this was possible. Today, this is seen as something that’s cool, but so accessible that it doesn’t carry as much excitement. How does this affect sports?

 

I was hoping to find more information about the stream of this Super Bowl, but sadly the reports still haven’t come out. However, last year’s Super Bowl had the highest streaming of a sport event with 2.02 million viewers. It’s clearly the future of how sports will be watched. ESPN did a great job with adapting it’s mobile platform as fast as possible in order to watch live games. However with this new way to watch sports, does that threaten the large network stations that famously air these events live? With the changing climate of  fans wanting to watch the game in the atmosphere of their own home, the question of when will cable die and streaming take over?

 

Additionally, Hulu, a streaming platform that most are familiar with, was one of the top streamers of Super Bowl LII. There were many technical difficulties with the platform and blackouts of the content in the final moments of the game. Although there are difficulties coming, I believe that cable cutting is the future of television. Let me know what you think!

 

-MC

6 comments

  1. Let me guess…Giant’s fan? At least Eli won the commercials with his sweet dance moves.

    I’m a cord-cutting who streamed the game through the NBCSports app on AppleTV (my parents still have cable so I bum their login for the app). As an Eagles fan, I’m thankful the app didn’t experience any blackouts in the final moments. However, I did miss most of the commercials! I don’t know if it was on purpose or a technical difficulty, but the NBCSports app displayed a “Coverage Will Resume Momentarily” message during most of the commercial breaks. If this was a technical difficulty I’m sure the advertisers paying for those spots were just as upset as the viewers.

    I agree with you that cord-cutting is the future of TV…cheaper, more options, fewer ads, and watch what you want when you want. The only benefit cable has had is live sports, but even that advantage is going out the window with the streaming services making deals to show sports. I streamed some of this season’s Thursday night games through Amazon Video and had a good experience.

  2. Hey Mike, I enjoyed your post. I think its interesting that you mentioned the Cloverfield commercial, because my roommate actually works for the company that planned the timing of that commercial and she said they had to keep it under wraps for weeks. She told me that only six people on the media planning team knew about it, not including the CEO. It’s funny how something like this was carried out in such a large company, and I’m sure that it involved a lot of trust on Netflix’s end.

    I definitely think you’re right that streaming is going to be the future of television, especially with this culture of having everything at your fingertips with services such as Netflix and Hulu. It probably explains why movie theaters are struggling these days too. I do think that cable companies have noticed this trend, and might start to make the shift to keep up with it. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  3. I would have to agree that streaming is going to cut into cables space in the years to come (I mean it already has), however at least in my family the tradition of everyone crowding around a tv to watch a game is something we all love to do. Have you thought about the possibility that as streaming becomes more preferred companies will jump at the chance to fill the “Coverage Will Resume Momentarily” parts of the stream with ads? As long as that ad space is available I think streamers such as Hulu and Amazon Video would be crazy not to obtain that revenue by selling the space to the highest bidder.

  4. I too am a giants fan, so I invite you to celebrate with me in Pats loss rather than an Eagles victory.
    I think streaming is certainly a viable alternative to the television, but eventually won’t the stream be cluttered with ads as well? Or do you believe it will be more of a pay-per-view kind of deal? The house I watched the SB at actually had one TV showing the game and another screen streaming the game, and what was interesting was the stream was about 15 seconds behind the cable version. While that might not seem like much, until they get and can ensure a more efficient and instantaneous streaming method I have doubts about the willingness to “cut cable”.

  5. Thanks for the shout-out Mike! I myself have recently cut the cable cord. I have an Amazon Fire TV (probably the only thing in my life I was an early adopter of) and do utilize streaming quite frequently. However, I also have a digital antenna that gives me access to about 40 channels for free, and that is how I watched the Super Bowl this year. All of the major networks come in crystal clear. (Proximity to a major city helps with reception.) Working in sports and seeing a small piece of the inside of television deals, I can say confidently that live sports are the only things saving cable these days. Major networks are continually increasing their media rights deals with professional leagues and the NCAA because they know that sports events will be the last remaining live-watched programs on television. While I can watch games on ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS, I cannot watch ESPN or NESN without “borrowing” my brother’s cable login info. So while I have “cut the cord” I do still grab onto someone else’s for a few programs, mostly sports. For this year’s Super Bowl streaming post-event, I wonder what percentage of viewers were re-watching vs how many were watching it for the first time. Especially with a game of that magnitude, I imagine it is extremely difficult to shield yourself from becoming aware of the outcome. There was even a How I Met Your Mother episode about this a few years back. But at that time, they had to tape it in order to watch it afterward.

  6. I currently live on my apple TV life and have to borrow my families cable TV login to watch any really recent TV shows. In my family, the only things that are ever watched live are sports games and the news. I definitely agree with Maria that sports are saving cable (and she actually knows it!).
    I also think the idea of social media and online content is destroying live viewership for cable, as more and more people just look for highlights and some updates online.
    An update on the Super Bowl streaming: NBC saw a 15% increase in streaming over Fox’s stream last year. except total viewership fell 7%. So while streaming was at a record high, viewership still fell. Will be interested to see further data break down on these numbers.

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