The decline in viewing figures for live sport have been largely blamed on younger audiences’ preference for consuming highlights on social media, however new research has revealed only 2% of millennials prefer to watch their sports as clips on social media.
The findings come from a study analysing the viewing habits of young millennials, those aged between 18 and 24, and sheds more clarity on the evolution of live sports consumption and the growing problem of piracy.
Traditional sports broadcasters such as Sky Sports have suffered declining viewing figures for hugely expensive properties such as the Premier League, leading to fears that cord cutting and illegal streaming services were eating into audience figures.
The SMG Insight research for the BT Sport Industry Awards study consisting of over 1,500 people, has highlighted the prominence of this trend, revealing that more than 54% of young millennials have watched illegal streams of live sports and a third admit to regularly watching them, compared to only 4% of over-35s.
Nick Keller, chairman of the Sport Industry Group, said: “Unless we are careful, we will have a generation of young people who consider pirated sports content to be the norm. That’s a significant challenge not just for rights holders but the whole sector – from sponsors and athletes to ticketholders.
“It’s in everyone’s interests, not least the fans who enjoy a quality product, to make sure that the value of sport is maintained by delivering a quality product through the best means to appeal to the audience.”
In light of the economic disparity of millennials compared to over 35s, it is unsurprising that millennials are much less likely to pay for sport on TV with only 14% having a paid sports subscription channel.
The answer may not lie in OTT Netflix-style services like Now TV though, the analysis found that only 5% of millennials questioned said they used such services for live sport, compared to 2% for non-millennials.
While social media platforms like Snapchat has been touted as the preferred method of watching sport among millennials, the Sport Industry Group’s study found that only 2% of them prefer to watch their sport as clips on social media, although they are twice as likely as the rest of the population to watch on a tablet or phone.
The preferred means of watching sport for millennials was the same as the rest of the population, namely live TV, with highlights packages coming a distant second and live on a tablet or phone a distant third.
“That millennials are moving to other mediums comes as no surprise,” said Richard Brinkman, managing director of SMG Insight. “But what is interesting is that the pace of change remains slow and that traditional forms of sports consumption – like sitting in front of a big TV – remain by far the favourite option.”