1 January, 0001 5 min read

How the pandemic changed the viewing experience for sports

Chema Fernández Diaz
Co-Founder, StreamViral
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The pandemic changed people’s viewing habits as more worked from home, which resulted in an acceleration of digital consumption among subscribers worldwide. The growth of digital content quickly increased to meet the demands viewers. A report published by market research company Global Web Index states that 87% of US consumers and 80% of UK consumers have increased their daily video consumption.

With more time on their hands and no live sport, fans are turning to video content, and this increase in demand is what has led to FIFA opening its archives across owned and social media channels, F1 launching a virtual Grand Prix series and so on.

The sports industry was heavily affected as teams played in front empty arenas or stadiums. The pandemic has also impacted revenues from advertising and pay-TV sports subscriptions. In Q4 2020, it was only minimally down from the previous year, with a 2.7 per cent decline in TV ad spend - the lowest of all media. However, this follows a 15.7 per cent decline in Q3. Lower revenues have sharply reduced content budgets at the same time when production costs have increased. Many teams and leagues had to quickly adopt digital strategies and trends to stay connected with fans. This meant a huge opportunity for fan engagement. Not only with current fans but to also try and attract new subscribers.

The over-the-top (OTT) platform represented a key area for audiences to consume content and for teams to grow their digital channel. OTT offered teams a way to differentiate themselves from traditional mediums of viewership. It provided a way to be innovative with how to engage fans with personalized viewing content.

Sports are about fan engagement. OTT has made it possible for fans to remain connected with their favorite teams. In turn, sports teams can leverage an OTT platform to grow their brand and communicate and interact in a way that solidifies the fan/team relationship.
As the broadcasting industry shifts from traditional to video-on-demand and OTT platforms continues to grow it will be important for sports teams to evolve in order to build their brand and gain the growth in fan share.