The streaming wars have crossed over into mainstream sports.
And quite frankly, this was only a matter of time.
As most of you know, streaming has taken over the entertainment industry. Documentaries like “The Pharmacist” or “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” are being discussed at parties around the country. Want to know what the fuss is all about? No worries, just fork over the $12.99 a month to get a Netflix login.
Not into the new stuff? Rather watch something from the past instead. No problem there either. You can catch every episode of “Seinfeld” on Hulu for just $5.99 per month.
Or hey, how about a “Friends” reunion? Well, you better sign up for HBO Max for $14.99 a month. And pretty soon you’re going to need a Peacock login to stream “The Office,” but it’s just $9.99 a month. Excellent job with the name choice, NBC…
As you can see, these monthly costs can add up to trump some of the most expensive cable packages, especially when you consider sports fans are going to have a TV provider, as well.
And this doesn’t seclude any generation. People of fall ages enjoy these shows on streaming devices. Heck, my dad is more into “Stranger Things” on Netflix than I am.
So I couldn’t help but laugh when someone had the audacity to tell me, “Nobody streams sports” last week. To this day, I still don’t know if that person was joking with me or not, but if they weren’t, that notion certainly couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Want to watch LSU and Louisiana Tech on the diamond this Wednesday? Hope you have SEC Network+ on your guide. Otherwise, you’ll be streaming like the rest of us.
And if you claimed to have watched Tyson Fury/Deontay Wilder II this past weekend, you or someone who hosted you streamed it. The only way to watch it in the United States was by purchasing through ESPN+ or Fox Sports. And that’s the baseline of this conversation today.
Many scoffed at UFC president Dana White when he made ESPN+ the exclusive PPV home of the UFC. ESPN used the popularity of mixed martial arts to help turn ESPN+ into a near $8M subscribers, and that data could be outdated after many boxing fans put their money together to purchase the biggest heavyweight fight in decades. And that’s the brilliance of Disney at hand. Because you can’t just simply pay the $80 if you aren’t a subscriber for ESPN+. Oh no, you have to purchase the fight in addition to a monthly subscription.
ESPN+ has a leg up on its competition by already securing a $1.5B deal with the UFC to show PPVS through 2025. Then Disney locked up the new WBC Heavyweight Champion when Fury agreed to terms for a series of exclusive and lucrative fights on ESPN under Top Rank in 2019. And now there are rumors that the WWE is in serious talks to also partner with ESPN.
The WWE already streams its major PPVS on the WWE Network, so if you’re a wrestling fan, you likely aren’t new to this whole streaming business.
What this does to cable in the long run is actually hard to predict. Sports is what keeps a lot of these cable networks in business, as the NFL is coming off of a Super Bowl that was the 11th most watched show in TV history, according to Fox Sports.
As combat sports shifts its most important fights to the digital realm, it forces fight fans, who are already cable subscribers because of their love for college football, the NBA, MLB or NFL, to subscribe to additional services. How long before Fox starts charging for Fox Sports Go content? Are you willing to pony up in addition to paying $4.99 a month for ESPN+?
And you have to think it’s only a matter of time before Fox and other companies try to follow suit, right? I mean, are we going to have to subscribe to Peacock to watch Sunday Night Football a decade from now?
The future is cloudy, but it’ll be crystal clear on your streaming device.
Begun, the streaming wars have.