Die-hard fans of live sports are migrating online in big numbers, responding to the multibillion-dollar investments by major technology companies, the research firm Antenna suggests in a new report.
(Bloomberg) — Die-hard fans of live sports are migrating online in big numbers, responding to the multibillion-dollar investments by major technology companies, the research firm Antenna suggests in a new report.
The NFL Sunday Ticket, now distributed by YouTube, has attracted an estimated 1.3 million sign-ups, Antenna said Thursday. That exceeds the 1.2 million customers the service reportedly had under its old distributor, DirecTV.
The package, which lets fans watch games not shown on local channels, is also driving new subscribers to YouTube TV, a $73-a-month online alternative to cable television. About 41% of Sunday Ticket subscribers who purchased the package as an add-on to their YouTubeTV subscription are new YouTube TV subscribers.
“It’s a really great win-win for the NFL and YouTube,” Jonathan Carson, Antenna’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said in an interview.
The findings show hardcore fans of football, basketball and other sports will go where the programming is, just like lovers of films and TV dramas. An estimated 50 million online viewers now have access to a game of the week from various US sports, through services like Max, Peacock and Paramount+.
Older online services from the NBA and MLB continue to thrive, while newer products like NFL+ and MLS Season Pass are off to a fast start. The NFL+ service, which launched in July 2022, now has 2 million subscribers, Antenna said.
Antenna said services that can reach a large swath of the population are generally doing better, citing Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN+ and MLB TV. Services run by sports leagues are approaching 10 million customers, it said. Regional sports networks on cable and satellite have been struggling.
Read More: YouTube to Pay $14 Billion for NFL’s Sunday Ticket Rights
Amazon.com Inc., which now streams Thursday Night Football, has averaged 13.5 million viewers a game this season, according to the company. While that’s up from last year, it’s below what Fox Corp. was averaging for a full season when the games were on broadcast TV.
YouTube, an Alphabet Inc. subsidiary, won the rights to Sunday Ticket in December 2022, agreeing to pay more than $2 billion a year over seven years, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time.
YouTube offers multiple plans for Sunday Ticket, ranging from $349 a year to as much as $489, depending on what’s included in the package. Fans who also sign up for YouTube TV pay less than those who chose only the football offering.
Antenna bases its estimates on a panel of consumers it monitors.
(Updates subscriber numbers in third paragraph.)
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