Sports viewing behaviours are changing, and visibility is key to stay on top of the game

As Wimbledon draws to a close, Andrew Brember looks at how sport viewing behaviours are evolving, and the role of cross-media measurement in reaching and engaging sports fans.
20 July 2023

We recently saw Carlos Alcaraz and Markéta Vondroušová winning the 136th edition of Wimbledon. As they lifted the trophies, we can’t help but notice the change in sports viewers’ behaviours and how events that were once broadcast on linear channels only are becoming available on all platforms and all screens, making cross-media audience measurement crucial to stay on top of the game.

New ways of viewing are now available

In the UK, Wimbledon was previously only available on BBC’s linear distribution channels but now tennis fans can watch any court of their choosing, at a time that suits them. More and more sports events are now available on streaming platforms, giving the most passionate fans the opportunity to watch multiple games at the same time. In 2021, Amazon Prime made the French football championship, Ligue 1 available on its platform; on top of it being available on PayTV with Canal+ and Bein.  

In the same year, Amazon Prime Video added live sports in Brazil for the first time as part of its catalogue with Brazilian Grupo Globo and Amazon Prime Video announcing a partnership for the broadcast rights of the Brazilian football tournament, Copa Do Brazil. In the USA, NFL’s Thursday Night Football even became streaming exclusive on the same platform, Amazon Prime. 

Technology “push” versus consumer “pull” 

With new technology, new offers and thus new possibilities for the viewer, it is crucial to monitor consumer adoption to understand which behaviours are just fads and which ones are here to stay.  Being able to evaluate the technology ‘push’ versus the consumer demand ‘pull’ is crucial to enables sustainable growth. 

When it comes to streaming sports, the trend seems to only get stronger as, according to the BBC, Wimbledon was streamed 54.3m times on iPlayer and online beating the previous highs of 53.8m in 2022 and 30.5m in 2021.

Other than Wimbledon, we can see from Kantar Media Global SportScope, our dedicated sports survey, that fans of women’s football are also particularly likely to watch live events through streaming, especially Women’s Super League and Women’s Champions League. This could be explained by the awarding of rights to women's football to online streaming platforms - including the UEFA Women's Champions League to DAZN in Europe.

With sporting summer of 2023 set to be defined by the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia & New Zealand, advertisers have an opportunity to reach fans, wherever they are, and however they are following the event.

Streaming is attractive to fans as matches or races are finished in just a few hours, but with streams, the show goes on and on, expanding the fan experience. With content available before, during and after the game, fans have more of an opportunity to stay connected with their favourite athletes and teams.  This attribute represents real opportunities for brands to engage with fans, with tailored content and messaging.

New advertising opportunities

With streaming growing, it comes as no surprise that advertisers want to harness this opportunity to further brand engagement on these platforms. But, in order for them to do so, it is crucial to know where their target audience is, how they consume content, how their viewing time is spent across screens and the sequence in which they watch. 

On the other hand, media owners need to know the behaviours of their audiences regarding sports events to value their inventory to advertisers – and to ensure they are delivering the trusted audience metrics to rights holders. 

Audience measurement intelligence in the context of sports is vital to guide businesses involved in their strategic decisions. The benefits are in the early insights that it unlocks, thus enabling businesses to reach, engage and ultimately monetise audiences.

With Global SportScope, sports related data among platforms is finally unlocked, enabling media owners and advertisers alike to access rich insights on fan engagement, content consumption and brand power, which will fuel businesses strategic decisions. The 2023 edition of Global Sportscope, covering 41 markets, will be available from August.

Next year, one of the biggest sport tournaments will take place in Paris - the Olympics. This leaves us wondering how are they going to be consumed and even more importantly, how are they going to be sold to advertisers?  

Andrew Brember is Sports Commercial Director for Kantar Media.

Unlocking Value: an advertiser’s guide to monetising viewers across platforms’ is available to download here. A separate guide helping media owners and platforms is also available here for download. 

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