New sports viewing study reflects (another) broadcasting weakness

New sports viewing study reflects (another) broadcasting weakness.
The amount of time consumers spend watching sports on broadcast and cable networks declined for the first time in recent history, according to the annual “TV Sports Report” by Magna Global USA. MediaDailyNews reports that while ESPN and Fox noted gains, broadcast networks took it on the chin.

The development is ironic given that the number of options for watching TV sports continues to grow, but that in an indirect way may be a factor limiting the growth of ad-supported broadcast and cable network sports. A significant amount of that expansion has gone to regional sports networks, pay-per-view and satellite TV services that are not reflected in the analysis.

The Magna analysts noted that if these disparate sources were factored into the analysis, “we’d likely see an overall increase.” Even so, those gains would likely have come at the expense from the major ad-supported TV sports players, which have shelled out hefty sports rights fees to lock up the premium nationally televised sports.

These trends (by the way, ESPN2 is now ahead of NBC) are going to continue and accelerate, because the new player on the block is Internet broadcasting. Professional sports streaming Webcasts are in their infancy, but I expect they too will be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

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