Millenials favor streaming use over cable television

Catherine Chu, Reporter

With the surge in social media popularity among millennials in the past decade, many are wondering if interest in sports is declining. NBA commissioner Adam Silver writes that, according to his studies, “sports viewership was down more than 15%, with spectators watching one hour and 12 minutes per game compared to last year.” Meanwhile, Forbes reports that sports viewership on streaming services has reached an all-time high. Younger people are still interested in sports, though their platform preferences have changed.

Before streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube and Huluwere introduced, watching cable television was much more common for teenagers. However, since then, with the various multipurpose social media platforms, millenials have shown a preference for following sports on these platforms instead. For instance, in 2018, the Quartz conducted a Structural Management Group survey of 18- to 25-year-olds. Out of these individuals, 50% were found to be morelikely to stream sports illegally, and 50% less likely to pay for TV subscriptions, in comparison with 50-year-olds. The decline in TV subscriptions greatly affects the revenue for all major sports organizations. According to Tom Rich`ardson, founder and president ofthe Convergence Sport and Media consultancy group, the modern sports-media landscape is dominated by the “highlights economy,” which has been cultivated by professional leagues with real-time highlights in-game being put out to stream. Sports viewership outside of cable television reached an all-time high during Lebron

James’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. This not only demonstrates that millennials are interested in sports, but it also illustrates the power of streaming services. However, feedback for cable companies, as a result of the major decline, has left many sports executives seeking to build a new direct-to-consumer channel to adapt to modern digital technology faster. According to Silver, the NBA recently struck a nine-year domestic media rights deal worth a combined $24 billion with ESPN to prepare for the millenial-powered social media uprising.

Younger people, many of whom are students, display a significant impact on trends in society, especially in this case. At Gunn, this trend is clear: in a recent poll with 49 students conducted via Instagram, roughly 53% reported that they prefer streaming services over cable services. Sports platforms have been picking up on these trends and are changing their marketing to become even more social media based. In the future, ESPN plans to release shorter viewing clips to accommodate the millennial tendencies, which will make it so that highlights and commentary will be even easier to track. Beyond that, ESPN analyst Jay Williams writes that “the acknowledging of networks and recalibrating to better serve Generation Z’s preference for mobile viewing and highlights will not appear to be underway,” hinting at even more future adaptations.