It's been well-documented that consumers have flocked to streaming services in the past few years. And for marketers, the increase in consumption for streaming sports programming has changed the advertising ecosystem and presented opportunities to reach net-new audiences.
Tubi’s latest research report, “The Stream: The Sports Streaming Audience,” ¹ offers dramatic evidence that sports streaming is among the most dynamic video consumption trends today. In particular, free ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) is a preferred streaming option for the majority of consumers. It confirms why advertisers and marketers must develop an equally dynamic, forward-looking sports streaming strategy to reach incremental audiences.
Streaming is not just the future—it’s the now
Streaming video is the fastest growing viewing method: In the past year, the number of people turning to streaming as their first viewing option has grown from 14% to 29%. The fact is, streaming is a business imperative—64% of all U.S. consumers stream weekly.
Unsurprisingly, younger audiences are streaming in immense numbers. 78%-82% of Gen Z and millennials consume streaming video every single week.
Following the rapid growth in streaming entertainment content, the next frontier for marketers in streaming is sports. Nearly a quarter of sports ad budgets will be shifting to streaming over the next year and a half.
More is more for sports fans
Sports are an abiding American interest, with 81% of U.S. adults ages 18 and over casually following at least one sport, and 50% of adults are actively interested in 4 or more sports.
For many fans, watching sports is a sport. Approximately 25% of the U.S. population is actively interested in at least 13 different sports, and that includes 33% of women 25-34, and 70% of men 25-44. It is notable that most commercially recognizable leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL) are the primary focus of U.S. fans, but our findings reveal that if niche sports such as the X Games (for example) are available in a streaming portal, or skateboarding or billiards or fishing or rugby—well, you name it—these avid fans will likely stream them and watch.
For advertisers, the implications are clear. If up to 50% of all sports fans want to watch streaming soccer, or snowboarding, or Formula 1, or cricket, the under-the-radar marketing opportunities are evident: Aligning with the depth and breadth consumption trends will be critical for scale and engagement.
Along with this omnivorous appetite for sports viewing is an almost-as-strong willingness to watch shoulder programming: While 55% are interested in viewing live sports events, a full 41% are interested in classic or legendary events, 39% will watch clips and recaps, and 37% are keen on sports documentaries.
Consolidation and access is Key
There is a high level of friction for consumers in discovering and consuming sports content in a streaming environment. Audiences are frustrated that they can’t log in to a single platform for all their streaming needs. They also don’t like to pay for multiple channels to access their various sports choices.
Participants in Tubi’s study noted that many times they have to “jump through hoops” to get to the streaming sports they crave. On average,audiences use 4.5 sources to watch their preferred sports content.
When it comes to preference, streaming audiences would rather have a single source for all of their sports viewing. And they don’t mind watching ads for this convenience: 74% of sports-interested fans say they’re fine with watching streaming with ads, in exchange for not having to pay forthe service.
Streaming—and sports streaming in particular—has been on a strong upward trajectory. The increasing availability of streaming video on multiple devices combined with younger demographics who see streaming as an extension of TV, all indicate that these trends will continue.
1 Methodology: In July 2021 Tubi partnered with consumer strategy firm Magid to field a national survey representative of the U.S. census. The report is based on the responses of 2,000 survey sports consumers, as well as four focus groups for additional individual data.