As football season rolls around, there is much to discuss. The bulk of the discussion has centered around conference realignment, and for good reason. The massive dollar figures being thrown around and the drama of schools being left out or joining super conferences is a great discussion. However, one thing that I haven’t seen enough of is the discussion on streaming when it comes to sports.
My dear colleague Thumpasaurus wrote a fantastic piece discussing the fact that there will be 7 Big Ten football games streamed exclusively on Peacock this year. There were a lot of complaints in the comments and on X (Twitter) about this new shakeup.
“HOW COULD THEY DO THIS?”
“ITS JUST FOR THE MONEY.”
“THIS WILL RUIN EVERYTHING.”
So on and so forth, you get the picture. The reception of this decision has not been positive to say the least. However, there is data to show this is actually the right time for these networks to make this move.
As reported by Variety, “Linear TV Viewing” dropped below 50% of the US TV usage in July 2023 according to Nielsen.
For those who may be unaware, Nielsen TV Ratings are basically the standard that entertainment companies judge and answer the question of “what do our consumers actually watch?” Essentially, Nielsen has mathematically chosen a sample of 100,000 homes across that are meant to be representative of the average American household. There’s all sorts of backgrounds and ways they make the sample homes reflect the greater population, so don’t dwell on that too much.
BUT, what they then do is gather all the data from these homes as to what programs are being watched. By being a Nielsen household, you are submitting all your TV viewership data to them, and recently that has included numbers for streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube. They then gather this information together some way and this is how advertisements, target demographics, and other things such as programming cost get set up.
So back to the statement, linear TV viewing fell below 50% for the first time. Linear TV is made up of two tv metrics, Cable TV and Broadcast TV. Broadcast TV is essentially television that runs over “public” airways. Think of your local FOX stations, local NBC, etc. A good example of this is during July 2023, the most watched programs were dramas (yes, daytime soap operas) with the top event programs being the ABC World News Tonight and MLB All-Star Game on FOX.
Cable TV works differently. Cable TV includes all 1000 other channels you buy from DirectTV that you always complain you don’t watch. ESPN, AMC, USA, Animal Planet, those guys. For Cable, the top programs were the Home Run Derby and the College World Series, followed by “When Calls the Heart” on Hallmark.
What’s the Big Picture Then?
The big picture is this: out of all the ways media can be consumed, Nielsen is saying that less than half of TV and entertainment consumption comes from Broadcast TV and Cable now. To be exact, it’s 49.6% total. The entire percentage breakdown of TV Usage was this:
- Streaming – 38.7%
- Cable – 29.6%
- Broadcast TV – 20.0%
- Other (includes video on demand, video games, DVD, etc) – 11.6%
I recommend reading the Variety article, as they have a nice graphic I don’t know if I can steal.
The big picture is that traditional TV is going out the door. It’s dying a slow, painful death. As of July 2022, this same graphic was Linear TV 56% vs streaming at 34.8%. Now, streaming is up and linear tv is down.
So What’s This Mean For Sports?
Sports continues to be a major factor and winner for cable and broadcast tv. A solid argument could be made that sports is carrying cable and broadcast tv. However, given that so many of the main broadcast partners now have their own streaming services, you have to wonder how long they’ll continue to operate with the cable tv providers.
You see, cable tv and broadcast tv generally get lumped into contracts they negotiate. Those contracts can run for 5-10 years sometimes, however when they run out you’ll see messages on your DISH TV that says something to the affect of “we are unable to bring you this programming due to a contract dispute. Call your local affiliate and urge them to negotiate.”
Well, if you already have a streaming platform and are already able to broadcast to 20% of your audience, and another 38% are streaming focused, why give cable providers a cut? Why not go directly to your consumers?
And that’s where we’re at. We are living the live migration of services from cable TV to streaming services. It’s not going away ever. It’s 7 games this year, then 14 exclusive games with the ability to stream any broadcasted game on Peacock with just a subscription next year. I haven’t even mentioned to this point that the NFL’s Thursday Night Football is now an Amazon Streaming Exclusive. As streaming numbers climb, traditional tv will crumble.
There’s no use in fighting it. Just accept it. Hit the button. Like and subscribe.
Go ahead and lock in those low Peacock prices now, because for 8 billion dollars, you can bet your ass NBC will get their money’s worth.
When Will You Subscribe?
Probably This Season
Probably Next Season
Fuck outta here with that garbage. Down with the ship I’ll go!