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Sports Are, Again and Still, Eyeing Streaming

Sports Streaming - Blog

If the major sports leagues have their way, increasingly, you’ll need to subscribe to multiple streaming services to watch games with superstars such as LeBron James, Shohei Ohtani, Lionel Messi and Patrick Mahomes.

It turns out the leagues have aligned with sports fans in this respect — thus, CTV is becoming the center of gravity for sports advertising, too. A Deloitte study found that “30% of all fans have paid for a subscription to a streaming video service to watch sports over the past 12 months. For Millennials, it increases to 46%.”

Still, the same study found that many sports fans are concerned about the new reality. “Almost half of fans say they often miss games they want to watch because they don’t have the right streaming video service, and 44% say they have to subscribe to too many services to watch their sports,” Deloitte reported.

As these major sports leagues jostle for streaming deals — they’re not actually competing for viewers — but they aim to one up each other.

  • Hoops. The NBA is the latest league to explore a new TV rights deal centered around streaming. Their current contracts expire in 2025. “The NBA striking a deal with a major tech company rather than a legacy media behemoth would be a significant development further underscoring the growing shift in media toward streaming options and away from linear broadcast channels,” reported the Hill. Current negotiations would exclude the NBA’s historic linear home, TNT, and instead split broadcasting rights between three companies — Comcast-owned NBC (with more than half of games being shown on the company’s Peacock streaming service), Amazon’s Prime streaming service and ESPN (including its upcoming direct-to-consumer streaming service). 
  • Football. Amazon Prime Video’s recent inroads with the NFL undoubtedly influenced the NBA’s streaming initiative. Amazon, which streams games on Thursday nights, is picking up exclusive rights to stream one NFL game this coming season. They also saw that NBCUniversal had exclusive rights to stream an AFC Wild Card game last season between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins, which had an average audience of 23 million viewers, according to Variety. By contrast, the NBA Finals had 17.8 million viewers last year.
  • Soccer. The world’s most popular sport is gaining ground in the US but still lags far behind the other major leagues. The arrival of superstar Lionel Messi and his repeated appearances on Apple TV, a streaming network, has begun to move the needle, according to various reports.
  • Baseball. We will avoid saying anything about the league hitting it out of the park, but early season reports look promising. The MLB.TV direct-to-consumer service “recorded the highest total of minutes viewed across four days, with over 436 million minutes watched,” reports SP. That’s up six percent over the same period last year.

How Marketers Can Stream With the Best of ‘Em

The move to streaming on CTV isn’t entirely about the benefits of time-shifting. It’s mostly about providing marketers with more benefits than they get from Linear TV. Notably, that’s where the in-demand content is going.

Choosing the right programmatic technology partner empowers marketers to gain further reach and targeting and increase measurement accuracy. Cutting back on ad waste results in more savings, which pays immediate dividends no matter how the economy is performing. 

People-based technology, which powers Viant’s DSP, gives marketers greater potential to put runs on the board with their campaigns thanks to capabilities for identity resolution, omnichannel execution and closed-loop measurement. 

As streaming becomes the center of gravity for sports marketing, marketers can tap league-leading programmatic tools to make a lasting impression on sports fans everywhere. 

Contact your Viant representative to hear more, or get in touch.


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