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The longer the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, the more live sports continues to suffer. With social distancing killing the MLB, NBA, and NHL seasons, the 2020 Summer Olympics, and every other competitive sport, sports channels have nothing to broadcast, and viewership numbers are dropping.
ESPN’s ratings have dropped by nearly 50 percent compared to this time last year. NBC’s Gold Channel has also seen a 39 percent decline in viewership over the last few weeks. Because of the lack of live sports, networks such as ESPN and FS1 are turning to documentaries and esports to bring back viewers.
What does this mean for cable subscribers? A survey conducted by Kill the Cable Bill and Mindnet Analytics shows that 66 percent of people with cable say live sports is a significant reason for their subscribing. After all, even with the plethora of sports streaming options, people still prefer to watch the Super Bowl on the big screen.
Furthermore, 34 percent of cable subscribers say the current lack of live sports could impact whether they keep their cable subscriptions. And the longer sports events are postponed, the more effect that will have on whether customers will cancel. While 10 percent of respondents say they are very likely to cancel cable if there are no major live sports events by May 1, that number goes up to 13 percent for June 1.
A huge takeaway from the survey is that 33 percent of subscribers would cancel their cable contracts if the 2019-2020 NFL season is postponed. As 80 percent of the top-viewed sporting events in 2018 were NFL games, it’s clear that football—the one sport not yet affected by the pandemic—is wildly popular among cable subscribers.
This article originally published at PCMag