Do subs keep pay TV because of sports? Maybe, maybe not

By Jim O'Neill on Jun 02 2015 at 8:45 AM
Do subs keep pay TV because of sports? Maybe, maybe not

General entertainment programming on a pay-TV service is as critical, and perhaps more so, than sports when it comes to preventing cutting the cord.

Or, putting that another way… live sports may not be as critical to a pay-TV subscribers as it’s always been positioned.

In fact, a new survey says, it found that two-thirds of subscribers specifically said sports weren’t the reason they kept their pay-TV subscription.

The survey, from ClearLeap, was a modest one, reaching some 435 18-49-year-olds online.

But its finding are intriguing.

For instance, the survey contends that more than one-third of sports fans, identified as someone who said they often watch at least one sport, would pay up to $20 per month to stream their favorite sport without a cable subscription. That’s about the same as a subscription for HBO Now or Sling TV.

Still, more than half (51%) of those fans said they wouldn’t subscribe to such a service at any price and fewer than 10% of self-identified football fans said they’d be willing to pay more than $20 a month (NFL Sunday Ticket fans currently pay about $58 a month).

The survey also assessed TV Everywhere, asking “How often do you log in via your cable provider to watch TV on another device?”

Only 7% said they do so daily, with another 7% doing so weekly. But the majority (57%) said they never use TVE, which really hasn’t moved in the past two years.

The “whys” are a little more compelling, but also predictable.

Nearly one-quarter (21%) said they weren’t even aware that TV Everywhere was available to them; 16% said they didn’t know how to use it and 9% said it was simply too difficult to use.

More than a year ago, at the Cable Show in Los Angeles, a number of top executives bemoaned how difficult TV Everywhere and authentication was for them, with several saying they never even used their own TVE services because of it.

Of those viewers who do manage to sign in to their TVE service, about half (51%) watch TV shows and series, 22% watch movies and documentaries and 20% watch sporting events.

As the survey’s authors said: “There isn’t a lot of evidence to support the notion that sports are keeping subscribers tied to the bundle.”

Stay tuned.

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