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Sports driving subscription growth in U.K., report says

A stock image of a man playing soccer, or football, by himself.
(Stock image)

Around 80 percent of British sports fans who pay to watch matches on television say they plan to spend the same amount of money or more to continue accessing those events on cable, satellite and streaming services, according to a new survey.

The consumer study commissioned by research firm Toluna found live sports was one of the most-resilient forms of entertainment on television, with British viewers willing to pay up in order to access the events they want to watch.

Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said they preferred to pay for their subscriptions in monthly installments, a figure that increased to 78 percent among participants between the ages of 18 and 34, Toluna said. The average sports viewer spends £270 per year (about $340 per year) to watch live and time-shifted matches, mostly on satellite TV platforms.

While sports fans are willing to pay up, around one-third of British streamers say they’re cancelling subscriptions to general entertainment services in order to offset higher costs of living.

“Accessing sports content ranks high on UK consumers’ leader board of priorities, as evidenced by their willingness to spend on viewership, even while two-thirds believe they are financially worse off than they were a year ago,” Denholm Scotford, the head of Toluna’s research division TMTE-Harris Interactive, said in a statement. “Sport continues to be a cultural cornerstone, allowing brands to engage with consumers through content and events which truly matter to them.”

In the United Kingdom, households that watch live television through broadcast, cable, satellite or streaming must pay an annual tax, called a television license, that funds public broadcast initiatives. The BBC holds the domestic telecast rights to the UEFA Champions League, FIFA World Cup, FA Cup, Wimbledon Tennis and Six Nations rugby.

Some premium sports rights are held by Comcast’s Sky satellite service, which offers them through the multiplex Sky Sports channels. Matches from Premier League, Formula 1 and the National Hockey League are broadcast on Sky Sports; National Football League games were offered by Sky until this year, when the rights moved to sports streamer DAZN.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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