Sports fans are willing to pay more for streaming live sports, but only if it provides better access to the sports teams and leagues they are interested in.

These are some of the key findings of an international survey, commissioned by Verizon Media and released in Los Angeles in the last few minutes. It has taken a deep look at what fans want from services that let them stream live sports.

It will make for interesting reading for the GAA and RTÉ in relation to their live streaming service GAA Go available internationally and also the GAA Live service that shows content and highlights here in Ireland online and across social media.

It will also be of interest to all sports bodies that are either benefitting from international streaming or entering into arrangements with providers here to circumvent what is seen as the too high barrier of getting material onto mainstream broadcast channels.

The research was conducted amongst 5,000 sports fans in the US, UK, France, Germany and Holland and found that the opportunity for content providers streaming live sports is huge, as long as they offer greater personalization, better viewing options and a different advertising experience better suited to a streaming environment.

Fans are willing to pay more to get closer to their team

Almost two thirds (63 per cent) would consider paying – or paying more if they already do so – for a live sports streaming service if it offered coverage of a sports league or team that interests them.

Less than half (47 per cent) of respondents with a premium subscription feel that it gives them access to all the teams they want to watch, pointing to a market with plenty of opportunity for growth.

Fifty-one per cent of sports fans specifically use streaming services to follow sports that are not available anywhere else.

They like the flexibility and high-quality experience streaming gives them, with 39 per cent using a streaming service because it allows them to watch on their smartphone and 32 per cent opting to stream live sports in 4K Ultra High Definition. Over a third (37 per cent) of respondents choosing to stream live sports over-the-top because it’s a less expensive alternative to satellite or cable Pay TV.

“There is a huge opportunity for content providers to reshape the entire landscape of live sports by offering more choice and deeper coverage of specific teams,” said Ariff Sidi, Chief Product Officer, Verizon Media launching the report.

“There is the potential to build global audiences around niche sports and leagues that don’t currently get enough airtime, but to do so they must employ the latest and most flexible technology resources.”

Fans are cancelling if they don’t see value

Over a third (37 per cent) of sports fans have cancelled a live streaming subscription, with almost half (45 per cent) citing cost as the primary reason.

The most passionate sports consumers cancel services due to a lack of coverage of the teams they follow (23 per cent), a hard-to-use interface (15 per cent) or inordinate delay behind live coverage (19 per cent).

“We’ve already seen that if you get the content right, they could be willing to pay more and still see it as the option available to them that gives the most value for their money,” added Sidi.

Fans seek control of their live sports streaming experience

The survey also reveals what fans would like more of, or in the case of the ads that pay for it, less.

Approximately one in three are looking for more control over the live experience, wanting access to replay controls like slow motion (35 per cent), the ability to switch between camera angles (30 per cent), time-shifting (30 per cent) and the ability to skip ads (30 per cent).

There is also significant interest in getting easier access to match highlights (42 per cent), and libraries of on-demand content (22 per cent).

“The industry talks a lot about streaming services being ‘TV-like’ but sports fans actually want a different experience that puts them in total control.”

“Streaming services are much more capable of innovating because they have the luxury of using advanced technology that can serve every consumer need from day one.”

“Live sports streaming services can emulate the best aspects of traditional television while bringing totally unique immersive experiences to fans.”

Asked to choose between 4K Ultra High definition or improvements to the gap between true live and pictures appearing on screen, two-thirds of sports fans (66 per cent) would choose picture quality versus only a third (34 per cent) who would pick reduced latency.

New platforms demand new advertising models

Nearly nine in ten (86 per cent) sports fans expect streaming services to offer a different ad experience, with over half (54 per cent) expecting fewer adverts and around a third (29 per cent) wanting more personalized advertising and offers.

“We’re seeing yet more evidence for the need to tailor content and business models to suit individual viewers,” concluded Sidi.

“Service providers can make full use of the true flexibility of online streaming to personalize every aspect of the experience – from the content to the way they monetize it.”

The full findings are available by downloading the report, Viewing Shifts: How We Watch Sport, published by Verizon Media in partnership with Leaders in Sport.

The report includes commentary from BT Sports, DAZN, Facebook, Turner and Verizon Media.

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Image Credit: Leaders in Sport / Verizon Media