Ampere Analysis has polled 28,000 internet users across 14 markets to evaluate their willingness to pay for sports content. Of those that enjoy watching sport (42 per cent), the vast majority would be willing to pay regularly to watch at least one of their favourite events. With interests ranging from soccer to the Olympics, tennis to motor racing, basketball, athletics and cycling, are broadcasters and channels missing out on opportunities to further monetise sport?
The sports consumers are willing to pay to watch
Across the 14 countries, soccer is the game most consumers say they like to watch at 28 per cent, followed by the Olympics, tennis, athletics and basketball and motor racing. The specific sports leagues and competitions fans are most willing to pay for follows the same ranking, with UEFA Champions League (UEFA CL) coming top. However, enjoying a sport and paying to watch it are not the same. Ampere Analysis’s unique research shows the difference between those who enjoy watching a sport, and those who’ll pay to watch it.
Ampere’s analysis reveals that older consumers are more willing to pay for domestic competitions, with younger consumers showing greater propensity to pay for niche leagues. For example, in the US, older consumers aged 35 and over are more likely to pay for the National Football League (NFL) at 18 per cent vs 13 per cent for younger consumers. However, at 10 per cent, younger consumers (aged under 35) are more likely to pay to watch the National Basketball Association league (NBA) than those aged over 35 (6 per cent). It’s the same picture for UEFA Champions League (6 per cent vs 1 per cent) and the English Premier League EPL (5 per cent vs 2 per cent).
The facts: Willingness to spend by sport
- UEFA events, cricket, martial arts and motor racing may have smaller fanbases than the national leagues, but there is an audience willing to pay to watch them
- Although not everyone would be willing to pay to watch the Olympics, there is a substantial viewer base which makes charging to view the Games a viable option for broadcasters and channels – for the parts of this global event which can be taken pay-only
- The appetite to pay for both golf and rugby is more variable, and hugely dependant on the profile of the sport in each of the 14 markets we surveyed. Even for the high-profile Rugby Six Nations tournament, our analysis suggests many rugby fans are unwilling to pay to view.
Domestic competitions don’t always come top in the local market
In most cases, it is the major domestic competitions that consumers in each market say they are most willing to pay for. In Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Saudi Arabia however, the major international leagues – particularly the English Premier League – perform well.
Ampere’s Research Analyst Alexios Dimitropoulos, says: “Sports rights is a fascinating area because of the wide variety of consumer behaviour by country. Our research suggests that the majority of sports fans are willing to pay to enjoy their favourite games and leagues on TV. However, we see different levels of willingness to pay for domestic and international competitions, and mass and niche sports by market. There are also some global flagship events, particularly those that have always been free to watch like the Olympics and FIFA World Cup, where there is currently more reluctance to pay. Broadcasters will need to proceed with caution on events that are currently free as they look for more ways to monetise sport on a pay TV basis”.