We’ve talked a lot about sports betting, strategy, tips, mistakes, basics etc. But the one thing we haven’t really talked about is how we watch sports. We could even say that sports betting and sports watching may seem intricately related, but they technically aren’t. After all, not all sports bettors actually take the time to watch the games. Some avoid them out of superstition, while others just find it too suspenseful to watch a game in which they are financially invested. But sports viewership is still important. Networks aren’t inclined to air a program without ratings, which means that floundering viewership could actually have an impact on those who watch the games religiously.
In college football, the networks control the schedule. And depending on your team of choice, you may have struggled to find a game or two on TV this season. Even if you haven’t, it’s likely to happen at one point or another if ratings begin to face any kind of significant struggle. And if you actually work for a sports network, then recent changes in viewership trends may have actually put you out of a job. We won’t be looking at actual demographics for the most part, but we’d still like to explore recent trends in sports viewership and the effect they may be having on the industry.
The issue of sports viewership became relevant recently when ESPN announced that somewhere around three hundred of their employees would be losing their jobs. Online streaming is reaching peak popularity these days, and the result is that many subscribers to cable and satellite services are beginning to cut the cord.
Viewership for most sports has been dying steadily for the past couple of years. Of course, it’s affected some sports more than others. Of the fifty most-watched sporting events of 2013, there were forty-six NFL games, two NBA games, and one game each in NCAA basketball and football. Baseball and hockey did not even make the list, although the 2013 World Series came close. While every highly watched game outside of the NFL was part of a championship or title series, thirty-five of the fifty highest-rated games were simply regular season match-ups. In this light, it may seem as if football is the one sport immune to the pandemic of faltering sports viewership that appears to be gripping the nation.
Some people think that television is headed the way of print media, simply treading water and gasping for air while subscribers turn more and more attention toward the internet. We aren’t sure about that one. But between carriage disputes over the cost of retransmission fees, consumer apathy toward most of the ten thousand channels we pay for (and almost never watch), and an economy that makes cable bills something of an inconvenience, it isn’t too hard to imagine an increasing number of viewers cutting the cord.
People will watch football if it’s on, but they can stream most games on their phones or tablets, it’s easy for them to multi-task. In a world where you can watch The Walking Dead on your television while streaming the game on your Surface Pro, allowing you to mute out the commentary and just focus on the score, which in sports betting is what matters anyway.