Streaming services are no longer the future of television — they are very much the present.
In the summer of 2022 streaming became the top source of TV viewing for the first time ever, with 34.8% of consumers.
This year that grew even more, while cable and broadcast TV viewership fell under 50% for the first time. Now, the changing ways of television are coming to sports.
John Ourand has been covering all media for the Sports Business Journal for nearly two decades.
"The bundled TV industry is suffering a lot of cord-cutting because people are leaving the bundle to go and stream those shows. Sports has been sort of the last bastion that's been holding up, you know, the cable TV bundle," said Ourand.
The drop in traditional TV has created a whole new world for pro sports. The NFL has huge deals with Amazon Prime and YouTube, Major League Baseball with Amazon, Peacock and Apple TV +, which is now the exclusive rights holder for major league soccer.
"It's not great for consumers right now because there are so many choices in so many different areas to go. But the amount of choice the consumers are going to have, it's going to be really good, even if it's a lot different," Ourand.
The drop caused the parent company of one of the most prominent regional sports networks, Bally, to declare bankruptcy.
This season, Bally missed payments to the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks, forcing Major League Baseball to take control of those teams’ television production.
SCRIPPS NEWS' PAUL CRANE: How much are we looking at a sports television version of what print newspapers went through many years ago?
JOHN OURAND: That's a great analogy, where we can come up with several more that have hit media. If you had talked to the commissioners of these various leagues, they have warned teams that there's going to be a period of pain where they're going to be, they're going to have to get lower rates fully for their media rights than they had in previous years.
Many teams are now looking for fans to pay for games through direct-to-consumer streaming.
"Television now has a new competitor in this direct-to-consumer streaming. And nobody thinks it's going to just go away. It's going to stay. It's going to stick around. But it has to evolve and it's going to have a lot more competition moving forward," said Ourand.
Some of that competition is coming from our parent company, E.W. Scripps, using free TV and streaming on the national and local-regional level, after televising Big Sky Football and the WNBA Friday nights on Ion.
Scripps Sports will begin televising the Stanley Cup Champion Las Vegas Golden Knights this season on a first-of-its-kind local and regional contract.
CRANE: How much do you think other teams will be watching what happens with Scripps and the Golden Knights?
OURAND: Teams are absolutely looking at that as a potential option, especially as regional sports networks lose the number of subscribers that they have.
New thinking and new partnerships will now become more important than ever.
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