US Sports Video 2021

The Stakes Get Higher for All Players

Executive Summary

As US sports leagues and tournaments resume normal operations, the business of sports video is mostly back to pre-pandemic levels. Viewership will increase on the strength of digital platforms, while connected TV (CTV) ad spending and digital pay TV subscription revenues will also benefit. Legalized sports gambling is emerging as a marketing opportunity in the US. Despite these positive indicators, experts worry about the sky-high prices that sports leagues are commanding for broadcast and streaming rights.

What are the latest viewership and subscription revenue projections around live sports video?

Viewership of digital live sports content in the US will reach 57.5 million this year and 90.7 million by 2025. This growth will come from digital platforms, including virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs) and streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, which are ramping up their involvement. While traditional pay TV subscription revenues are declining, digital services—for which sports is a main attraction—are seeing increased revenues, as are sports-specific streaming platforms like ESPN+.

How is sports content affecting the TV and video advertising ecosystem?

While traditional TV spend will decrease, we forecast significant growth in CTV ad spending, driven mostly by live sports programming.

How will negotiations for sports broadcast rights play out in the coming years?

Led by the NFL, US sports leagues continue to command high prices for broadcast and streaming rights. Although some are willing to pay—like traditional broadcasters and Silicon Valley giants—there are questions about the sustainability of sports rights valuations, given the shrinking pay TV universe.

What role will gambling play in the broadcast and streaming of sports content in the US?

Sports gambling, which is now legal in nearly half the US, is emerging as a market opportunity for brands and broadcasters alike. However, enthusiasm is tempered by the potential for unsavory marketing practices, as parts of Europe where sports betting is legal have experienced.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report provides an overview of the US sports video ecosystem as the industry emerges from the pandemic, focusing on viewership, ad and subscription revenues, pricing pressures, and implications from sports gambling.

KEY STAT: The number of US digital live sports viewers will reach 57.5 million this year and exceed 90 million in 2025.

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    Table of Contents

    1. Executive Summary
    2. Sports Video Viewers
    3. Sports Video Revenues
    4. Sports Video Rights Go Digital
    1. Pricing Pressures
    2. Social, Digital Video, and Ecommerce Platforms Cement Their Place in the Mix
    3. The Sports Gambling Opportunity
    4. Key Takeaways
    1. Insider Intelligence Interviews
    2. Read Next
    3. Sources
    4. Media Gallery

    Interviewed for This Report

    Ray Amati
    Mars Wrigley
    Media and Social Content Director
    Interviewed May 10, 2021
    Tal Chalozin
    Co-Founder and CTO
    Interviewed May 3, 2021
    Marie Donoghue
    Vice President, Global Sports Video
    Interviewed May 7, 2021
    JoAnna Foyle
    The Trade Desk
    Senior Vice President, Inventory Partnerships
    Interviewed May 11, 2021
    David Gandler
    Co-Founder, CEO, and Director
    Interviewed May 14, 2021
    Jason Wiese
    The Vab
    Senior Vice President and Director, Strategic Insights
    Interviewed April 29, 2021
    Roxy Young
    Interviewed May 5, 2021

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    Ross Benes
    Senior Analyst
    Eric Haggstrom
    Senior Forecasting Analyst
    Nicole Perrin
    Principal Analyst
    Chuck Rawlings
    Senior Researcher
    Audrey Schomer
    Senior Analyst