Streaming Wars For Live Sports, Entertainment, and Gambling

It was time for a new thread following some of the discussion in the fine CFL and Other Sports TV Ratings thread:

Netflix remains king in the US despite setbacks, but it's noteworthy that Netflix has no roadmap for live sports as do the next two - Disney's Hulu followed by Amazon Prime.

As noted above in the thread is the streaming roadmap in January 2024 to dominant live sports on Hulu via rolling in, rebranding, and relaunching Disney's ESPN+ or NBC Universal's Comcast's Peacock.

It's not a stretch to see many of the smaller streaming services rolling their offerings into a collaboration with one of these big players before too long.

Having access to a live NFL game is king so as to bring the subscribers, and right now only Amazon Prime has an exclusive live streaming broadcast with the NFL with ESPN+ and Paramount+ with simulcasts of NFL games on cable and over-the-air TV respectively.

It's telling that during the heart of the pandemic that the percentage of consumers with streaming subscriptions remained flat.

I would have thought that the overall share of streaming subscriptions would have shot up dramatically during the heart of the pandemic, but then again part of the issue here perhaps lies with problems with platforms like Peacock and ESPN+ nowhere near as good as promoted or with Netflix shedding interest as it slashed content yet raised its monthly fee.

SVOD service user shares in the U.S. 2015-2022

Published by

Julia Stoll

Julia Stoll,

Oct 14, 2022

According to the most recent data, 83 percent of consumers in the United States were using a subscription video-on-demand service in 2022, an increase of nearly 20 percent in five years. It is no secret that one of the most popular platforms (and certainly the one with the most U.S. subscribers) is Netflix. The number of Netflix streaming subscribers in the United States passed the 70 million mark for the first time in early 2020.

Netflix as the most used video streaming service in the U.S.

To say Netflix has the monopoly on the U.S. streaming market would be an understatement, and with a wealth of original content appearing all the time, Netflix’s appeal is built to last. Data shows that Netflix has more viewers than Hulu and Amazon in the U.S., leaving services such as Disney+, Apple TV+, and ESPN+ trailing far behind.

How to satisfy subscribers?

However, the threat of new competitors could cause Netflix's subscriber base to dwindle if video consumers decide to go elsewhere. Upcoming services ranging from the long anticipated Disney+ to Warner Bros. Discovery's HBO Max and Discovery+ will likely draw some customers away from Netflix by virtue of what they can offer, and as new services enter the market, they will likely reclaim their own. Additionally, recent price increases in light of an upcoming recession led to losses in Netflix's subscriber numbers in the first half of 2022.

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If the CFL can't increase it's ratings in the Fall months as they are stuck behind a cable wall. As detailed in todays 3 Downnation article. It's time to stream it's games. It's imperative that the CFL has access to over-the-air telecasts. At least one game a week type game to the other Canadian networks like CBC, Global/Corus Entertainment

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Yes. CFL is behind the times there. If you want to attract younger fans that's part of the way to do it.
Stream and a strong presence on social media......plus it can solve foreign distribution problems as well.

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I’m no expert on streaming and am not sure how it works, but it seems to me that inside Canada at least that it would cost significantly more than cable. Are you guys talking about outside of Canada for streaming only?

The reason I ask is because I pay between $20-25 per month to Shaw for a bunch of premium channels that include TSN, Sportsnet and HBO, which are the main channels I care about. I get all TSN channels including all CFL and many different sports and all Winnipeg Jets games. If I were to pay say $4.95 per event or even $2 per event I would be paying 3 to 6 times that easily. Not to mention not having access to the HBO library of shows which is the best there is. If I wanted to I have access to everything on my phone via streaming as well, which doesn’t interest me.

Am I missing something?

Have to look at how that would be structured but 3 streaming services would be cheaper than what I pay for TV now....and with what I watch...I would think about it.

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Regional variations persist in the world of cable offerings indeed.

Internet and TV are merging as one and the same UNLESS it is over-the-air TV for major live sports.

The heavy trend is towards having ALL content on ONE bill be it internet, TV, or mobile. This heavy trend was discussed over two decades ago with the advent of residential high-speed internet from dial up starting about 2000 in the first wave of market expansion.

The big telephone companies in the US and substitute for Canada (i.e. Verizon) and big cable (i.e. Comcast, Charter, Time Warner) have simply dragged their feet for a long time including their very cozy relationships with various levels of government.

By 2010 cable and satellite TV still looked an awful lot like they did in the 1990s with little or no improvement in the customer experience. That was the year that cable and satellite subscriptions declined for the first time ever, which the arrogant industry attributed to the Great Recession instead of to correctly the underlying trends of technology improvements (i.e. far more content on YouTube) and of dissatisfaction by consumers with the same ol' local cable company playbook and carnival antics.

The industry still did not innovate until perhaps about 2018 with increased streaming offerings, and then only on a token front with lousy apps until the pandemic forced massive network upgrades. Their game before had remained to preserve their old, stale, and increasingly expensive cable box and channel model as long as they could do so.

The cost savings for sake of production and maintenance of the network for streaming video over the internet including live content, instead of a separate cable infrastructure overlaid on top, are substantial amidst various other drivers.

Others have their own experiences down here in the US and maybe can share.

My own experience in 11 months since dumping cable in November 2021 that previously remained more affordable, migrating everything else to one bill as of September, not only saves now after new phones very conservatively at least $30 per month (this deliberately conservative figure assumes the cable bill would be the same as 2021 though it likely would have gone up again by now, and I will lower this amount another $20 per month in the spring), but I have the following:

  1. Unlimited Data Including On All Phones
  2. Via Android TV And Its Offerings, More Content In Which I Am Genuinely Interested Than I Can Actually Watch - No More Flipping Channels And Little Searching Always Something Waiting To Watch
  3. Free Netflix That I Have Yet To Watch But Will Set Up This Weekend
  4. 12 Months of Free Paramount+ Then Can Switch To Cheap Subscription
  5. Expanded Over-The-Air Channels Via Google TV / Pluto TV

In the end the foundation via a broad streaming platform is superior and cheaper for scaling and customization of what you want and also far, far less of all the crap you don't want.

Note there are yet other platforms, such as Apple TV, that can be worked into the same framework.

For 2023 I will simply buy a new antenna and TV for over-the-air live sports, or perhaps the new TVs come with a built-in antenna.

The only catch at hand is the very same one since at least 2010 to watch some live sports over the Pirate Sports Network until these streaming services perhaps merge so as to be more inclusive, and not fragmented like now, of the offerings for live sports.

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The more competitive the league, the more interesting it is; the more interesting it is, the more people will watch games.

Unfortunately it may not be so simple for the NBA. And one of the biggest reasons why is a certain seven-foot-plus player who isn’t even in the league yet. But we’ll get to him in a moment.

Don’t bet on the NBA being able to reach the 1.6 million viewers that ESPN, ABC and TNT broadcasts averaged in the regular season — an impressive number considering it topped 2018-19, the most recent season unmarred by the pandemic. Even better: Regular-season and postseason ad sales were $1.31 billion, up 39% compared with 2018-19. That’s great for the NBA, which represents the next big rights deal in sports to expire in 2025.

This fine article focuses on the NBA, but within it is a great table of media rights for all major sports leagues with media rights in the US and some discussion of the trends at hand.

Look at all the contracts for live sports that are expiring at year-end 2022 or 2023. You bet there will be massive increases in the fees paid as well as more of the content drifting to streaming though I figure not as much exclusives as simulcasts with over-the-air with some cable as did the NHL when they ditched NBC for a far better deal with ESPN and Turner via TNT.

Note that like for the recent record-breaking Big Ten deal with CBS, Fox and NBC after Amazon was turned down, some of these have not been updated for the recent deals.

NBC even shuttered their NBCSN after losing that deal along with a host of other gaffes in their sports coverage for years now unless it's Sunday Night Football and a few other NFL games.

U.S. TV Sports Rights Expiring Soon

Sport/League/Conference Broadcaster(s) Rights Expire Cost per Year Increase on Prior Package
NFL: Sunday Ticket DirecTV 2022 $1.5B 50%

|NFL: Cell, Tablet and Computer Rights|Verizon|2022|$450.0M|150%|

|NASCAR: Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series (first half of NASCAR season)|FOX, FS1|2022|$300.0M|30%|

|Soccer: English Premier League|NBC, NBCSN, Peacock, USA|2022|$167.0M|100%|

|Soccer: MLS, US Men's and Women's National Team|ESPN, ABC, FOX, FS1, Univision|2022|$90.0M|500%|

|Soccer: English FA Cup|ESPN+|2022|$7.0M||

|Soccer: UEFA National Team Package incl. qualifiers and tournaments|ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+|2022|Not Available|-|

|Soccer: English Football League & Cup|ESPN+|2022|Not Available|-|

|College Sports: Big Ten Conference|ESPN, FOX, CBS, Big Ten Network|2023|$440.0M|100%|

|College Sports: Conference USA|CBS, Facebook, Stadium|2023|$5.6M|100%|

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I suspect the low ratings on CFL games is tied to gambling site it has with BetRegal. BetRegal is a small gambling site. It's not the bigger sites like FanDual, MGM, etc.

The CFL thought that the legalized gambling would be a godsend, but it hasn't. The overall CFL ratings indicates that the games doesn't book enough action for casual bettors to watch a CFL game.

I too thought that legalized gambling would bring in more viewers to CFL games

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It's up to Netflix to decide, given its heavy and leading footprint that now is back on track adding subscribers, whether or not to enter into live sports.

The advertisers are certainly voting with their money already.

Meanwhile as cited in the opening post and previously in the ratings thread, Disney will decide in January 2024 whether or not to pay off Comcast for exclusive ownership of its Hulu and then to roll all of ESPN streaming into Hulu for all live sports.

Netflix’s Basic With Ads, priced at $6.99 a month, begins Nov. 3 in the U.S. and 11 other markets. Disney+ bows its ad-supported plan at $7.99 a month on Dec. 8.

For Q3, Netflix returned to positive subscriber growth, netting 2.4 million new subs, and projected a gain of 4.5 million in the fourth quarter (which is the last time the company will provide that guidance).

In its letter to shareholders, Netflix tried to set expectations: “While we’re very optimistic about our new advertising business, we don’t expect a material contribution in Q4’22.” But it’s a massive opportunity: Netflix and Disney+ stand to capture an estimated $2.7 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively, in annual connected-TV advertising by 2026 in the U.S. alone, together representing about 15% share of the market, according to a Morgan Stanley forecast.

Netflix and Disney+ were initially reluctant to introduce advertising due to concerns it would be a turnoff to monthly paying customers. Here are four reasons they balked — and why both are now banking on lower-cost tiers to keep subscriber growth healthy.

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Here is an update on a deal that was expiring in 2022 that was renewed for far more in November 2021.

The estimated value paid for the deal is $2.7B over six years from 2023 through 2028, which works out to $450M per season.

For comparison, this is the value paid for the PL rights that equals the value paid for most digital rights to the NFL by Verizon through 2022.

The annual amount paid by NBC through 2022 was $167M per year, so $450M is a whopping 169% increase!

Ratings were way up in 2021, and I suspect the ratings to date in 2022 are way up here in the lead-up to the World Cup in 2022 despite NBC botching some opportunities by putting choice games on awful Peacock.

The Premier League is an example of live sports to streaming gone wrong and how not to do it.

No doubt the competition from CBS' Paramount+ in its coverage of the UEFA Champions League, also experiencing record ratings and increased subscriptions and a recent contract renewal, has gotten NBC Universal's attention after their NBCSN debacle with the NHL.

https://www.sportspromedia.com/news/premier-league-us-tv-rights-nbc-2028-espn-cbs/

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How Important Is Streaming and Mobile for Live Sports To YOUNGER Fans?

One of a few conclusions that can be drawn, along with some of the above data on the extreme growth in the value of media rights for live sports, is that the streaming and other digital and/or associated branding rights themselves are high-growth whether or not split out from other media rights for live sports.

I split the following table out from the article linked above from Variety on NBA Ratings to indicate the stark disparity in how younger fans enjoy live sports and associated content including especially with the use of streaming and mobile platforms.

Note also that for purposes of such enjoyment, "younger" now means no longer under 35 but the trend has expanded to under 50. I suspect this change took place largely during the pandemic.

Notice the steep drop for 50+.

Extrapolate for other leagues with the same age ranges.

The open question:
"How can the CFL or any league do even better to court and attract the the money spent and attention devoted by the under 50 crowd away from the plain old TV?"

NBA Fan Engagement

NBA Fans 18-34 NBA Fans 35-49 NBA Fans 50+
Play "NBA 2K" video game 66% 53% 11%
Gamble on NBA 42% 37% 9%
Play NBA fantasy sports 49% 42% 12%
Subscribe to NBA TV 43% 30% 21%
Subscribe to NBA League Pass 27% 25% 13%
Subscribed to live TV service in last 12 months to watch live sports 59% 49% 17%
Follow NBA on social media 57% 49% 13%
Listen to NBA podcasts 33% 35% 6%

FOR MORE DATA, VISIT

SOURCE: MARU/MATCHBOX FOR VARIETY INTELLIGENCE PLATFORM

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Great post Paolo thanks for sharing .

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It gets back to lack of teams and lack of content - CFL needs more teams which you have stated in another thread - and with only 4 games you could end up with 4 games not worth watching or betting on each week.

What games would you bet next week? Leos Bombers? Pretty sure the bombers are resting everyone. Hamilton vs Redblacks is a dog - I might bet MTL and Argos but Argos have nothing to play for they are in and have things wrapped up in the east.

Circling back the lack of volume of teams and repetitive nature of the schedule doesn't lend itself to betting. Need 14 or 18 teams to have enough quality games and volume to work with from both a fantasy and betting standpoint.

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Creating content used to require a heavy price for the equipment to do it. (100-200K) Now it doesn't. Basically a few thousand investment (well under 10K) and you can do most of what a TV station or content provider does.

People to run it? University interns would do the trick. Then you need one or two in-house guys to keep things on track.

There are a million ways to create content, and many other football leagues and USports, and local high school stuff and just so much you could do and it all promotes Canadian Football.......

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I am talking about live games - that type of content - more than 4 games a week - if you have 16 to 18 teams you have a lot more content for a broadcaster.

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To your point and @Squishy21 's point, it's both as otherwise I am seeing it more like you in that some expansion is inevitable however it should happen and quite likely crossing the border.

The underlying opportunity in the explosion of new content, channels, and revenue streams stands as too lucrative, albeit the vision for sake of the CFL or any league expanding is still being projected and defined, to pass up.

The other option is to die on the vine lest the enterprise become a ward of the state.

Adapt or die and it's sadly often not for the better and of course never any guarantees with sweeping change that will happen with or without one's participation or advocacy.

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Very true. But a lot of the market you wan to get to is ex pats, and players hometowns to start with.
We have enough content for ESPN to run ESPN Classic, just use it differently, and start adding to it.

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The Average Household Entertainment and Media Decision For Other Than Those With Young Children
(~Under 10)

Whether it was in 2017 or now, here's the decision at hand for the average household, which includes at least one sports fan, in 2022.

If young kids are in the picture, in the US Disney+ and Amazon Prime are usually selected by default including the entire bundle as includes ESPN+.

For everybody else on the average, the decision about live sports than anything else.

Nothing New To Decide

  1. WiFi Internet like for a decade now
  2. Broadcast Source with or without cable like for a decade now

New To Decide or Renew

Some or all of the following are FREE indefinitely or temporarily for millions now in the US who have a connection such as to a package via their internet provider. When not free, these services have never been more inexpensive (note even Netflix when not free is now going to offer a cheaper package after raising prices)

Netflix
Paramount+
Peacock (often free only via a cable subscription via Comcast or other with an agreement)
YouTube since inception
Pluto TV since inception (owned by CBS with a partnership with Google TV / Android TV, this is essentially replacement of most of your cable channels plus also live news - you can now access it via Google TV as well because they share almost all channels but Pluto TV has On Demand movies too)
Apple TV
MLB TV

Amazon Prime is not free but pays for itself for those who shop on Amazon.

Now extrapolate from here in Canada for what is developing as well, with of course like here in the US the options varying by region and driven heavily by the provider of internet service and mobile service. Note in the US these services are offered more by the same company since especially 2020.

So when you have most or all of the above, do you get all the live sports and everything else you want for cheap or free?

The overwhelming answer is "YES!" right now.

Every league that is behind, including the CFL, must pivot now to where the audiences for live sports on a screen already are now as opposed to seeking out anything new.

There are of course stakeholders with the old media, cable, and telecom players who have had the vast incentive to drag and stall this seachange in progress, and since at least 2010 they have succeeded in many places.

They must be cut loose for good now, for they are dead weight aboard this ship sailing in steady winds.

Back down to the deck for a week or overboard you go I say to those folks resistant to the required sweeping changes that require cutting loose the outdated and encumbering ties.

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For sake of our imagination for now ...

In the discussions via Genius Sports with US media partners, if they involve
CBS / Paramount+ or
Fox / Tubi and what if, Netflix Sports if they ever decide to launch given their vast audience already,
there's plenty of room for the CFL.

CFL games are already on not opposite NFL games but for the playoffs, and NFL games are already not as good in most markets on most Sundays now except for the national night game on NBC.

As far as Disney / ABC / ESPN or NBC go, forget them.

NBC Universal is all about growing its lame cable footprint and trying to get more people to migrate to Peacock, which sucks, rather than expanding their broadcast and streaming presence.

ESPN has hardly cared about the CFL for years anyway now, but for mostly Chris Berman in his time.

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NBC Universal and Peacock:
How To Piss Off Millions of Existing Fans and Customers, Part 1 of 2

aka What Not To Do CFL

Note the lessons and implications here for ANY sport or league that is going to try to tie itself EXCLUSIVELY to a streaming platform.

For the sports leagues that want to be big leagues, just say no already to that strategy. Why ignore where the money with the big leagues is flowing let alone their methods?

The first shot was fired by NBC Universal (NBCU) in September 2020, in the midst of a pandemic at that, when for no reason than some exercise in sheer Manhattan corporate greed, NBC decided that it might be good idea to put all Premier League games on Peacock that weekend. This was as it was known to likely only NBC executives that NBCSN was going to be jettisoned given that NBC was going to lose the NHL contract and with good reason and riddance given what the NBC had done to ruin their coverage of the NHL.

For Premier League, please note this moment in peak season for live sports in mid-September was just over 6 years after tens of millions to establish a cherished Saturday morning band and loyal audience.

The backlash by fans, who were already paying for cable subscriptions, was fierce and many like me have not ceased to remind NBC of such greedy antics. Some of us also reminded them of the same when we canceled Comcast service. Some of us also remind them on their Facebook pages and social media with ample concurrence.

Only recently has NBCU relented and put at least one PL game in each time slot on broadcast and/or cable TV given that the World Cup games are going to be on Telemundo, so they did figure out not to lose their audience in the run-up but to groom that audience that of course they once did not need to lose let alone their heartless decision in the midst of a pandemic in September 2020.

So how bad is it at Peacock now after the end of the third quarter after subscribers remained flat in 2Q2022 as all other major streaming services are increasing subscribers?

You do reap what you sow no matter how mighty you might be in life. There will be no remorse until this nonsense of putting prime content on only streaming by NBCU, instead of perhaps a simulcast as does CBS via Paramount+, ceases.

Note that CNBC is a unit of NBC Universal, so they are having the scripted report of the numbers for them via their own perennial hack David Faber with their NBC spin as well. They are shameless!

And they did succeed to juice the numbers by also introducing a $1.99 per month discount rate for the service, so give them credit for that in the current streaming price war now that everything is open and there are not so many real or fake captives at home so much.

Peacock parent Comcast typically uses its quarterly earnings reports to issue performance updates on the NBCUniversal-run subscription platform, whether the numbers are good (like last winter’s big 4 million subscribers spike) or awful (July’s big fat zero). That’s why it was a bit of a Peacocktober surprise when NBCU CEO Jeff Shell decided to go on one of his own cable channels Tuesday to let the world know Peacock’s paid subscriber base was once again growing, telling CNBC’s David Faber the streamer now boasted “over 15 million” paid users, 2 million more than the 13 million it claimed at the end of June. “Up” is undoubtedly good, but the bigger question facing Peacock is whether these latest gains are good enough. I don’t think they are.

For one thing, the streamer got those 2 million subscribers only after implementing what felt like an everything-but-the-kitchen sink strategy to boost its numbers following the disastrous second-quarter stall. Consider all the actions Shell’s underlings at NBCU and Peacock took over the last few months to goose the numbers, as well as some of the other factors that helped drive sign-ups.

<Break<

The problem is, despite arguably doing so much right over the summer to turbocharge subscribers, Peacock still only added 2 million more paid users. That’s half as many as it gained during the first three months of 2022, when the combination of the Olympics and the Super Bowl temporarily inflated Peacock’s subscriber base by 4 million subscribers. In other words, while Peacock once again proved it’s able to boost its paid numbers by pulling out a bunch of stops — as it did last winter — these stunts are yielding diminished returns.

Paolo's Prophecy For Early February 2023:
And then the people ...canceled again - right?

Too bad we won't know much beyond the usual excuses until perhaps May after the 1Q2023 numbers are out and well after the NFL has been over.

But what stops will NBC Universal try to pull out this time?

Most of the viewing interest on NBCU, with plenty of other options elsewhere for non-sports fans, in November through January is in the FIFA World Cup and the NFL Sunday Night Football along with a few playoff games, all of which are on live broadcast TV not Peacock. You also don't need Peacock to see highlights elsewhere.

As noted previously, there is a longer game strategy ahead at NBCU for 1Q2024 for either an acquisition of Hulu or a rebrand. They are just stalling now perhaps via these aggressive antics. Or they could have simply treated their core PL audience well before right?

Then there's this take by a non-employee of any unit of NBCU unlike David Faber of CNBC. Unlike for mortgage notes they hold that are not in default, bankers valuing the assets of others will seldom inflate those values. Ouch.

> What’s more, streaming industry analyst Rich Greenfield of LightShed argues it’s almost “irrelevant” at this point whether Peacock added two million or four million new subscribers last quarter because the streamer actually has a bigger headache: Audience engagement — or lack thereof. “What matters is daily time spent watching per Peacock subscriber,” he says. “From what I’ve seen, it’s very little. It makes it hard to drive ad dollars and/or raise the price if you don’t have engagement. The problem is, nobody just turns on Peacock to watch it.” Indeed, in his interview with Shell, CNBC’s Faber quoted from a Bank of America investor note which warned that because of the “small amount of net [subscriber] ads and lack of buzz around hit shows we worry that Peacock may struggle to hit engagement figures of 10 hours a month.” Shell acknowledged the importance of engagement — and then responded by changing the subject to revenue.

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