Increasing TV streaming audience and decreasing cable TV market share will also have consequences on the sports broadcasting market

Here’s a topic that caught my attention after reading a news story on an American website that said cable TV has lost its supremacy to streaming for the first time in the United States. The trend is strong all over the world that streaming TVs are becoming the most watched audio-visual service at the expense of traditional TVs.

Market share of traditional TV has fallen below 50% in the US

According to traditional TV usage, defined by terrestrial (antenna) and pay-TV (cable and satellite) broadcast TV services, fell below 50% for the first time in history, according to Nielsen’s monthly streaming report.

Broadcast TV viewership fell to 20% in July, and pay TV customers fell to 29.6% of viewers. On the other hand, streaming services (e.g. NETFLIX, YOU TUBE, AMAZON PRIME, HBO MAX,) reached an all-time high of 38.7% of TV usage, while video-on-demand services, DVD playback and audio streaming accounted for 11.6%.

What’s happening in the sports broadcasting market in America

It’s well known that the performance sports market in America is the largest in the world, with top live broadcasts – see the Super Bowl, and leagues paying huge salaries to athletes because they can afford to (see NBA salaries), with the money coming mainly from TV rights. Sports is still the king of broadcast and cable TV ratings. But streaming is starting to change the way we watch sports and will change it even more in the future.

The deal MLS signed with Apple TV+ was a big success for the American soccer league. Of course the arrival of Lionel Messi has had an incredible impact in America, with the Argentine footballer already winning his first trophy with his team, Inter Miami. Major League Baseball also has a Friday night national game on Apple TV+ every week, and Apple has expanded its baseball coverage to 60 countries around the world. Last year, they streamed games in 13 countries.

The biggest, of course, is the NFL’s move of its coveted Sunday Ticket to YouTube TV. It has been exclusively owned by DirecTV since 1994.

So the streaming market in the US is getting better and better and is gradually taking over the most important championships on the North American continent by offering them in streaming to its consumers.

What’s happening in Romania with streaming and sports

Sport is getting big ratings overseas, but it’s also getting good ratings in Romania. Matches of the national men’s football or women’s handball teams get high ratings, international cup matches of our traditional teams such as FCSB also get high ratings. But local sport is not yet present on streaming channels. headlined in 2019 that almost half of Romanians have subscriptions to streaming channels. After the years of pandemonium that followed the 50% percentage has surely been exceeded. So the prerequisites for moving some of the sports broadcasts to streaming channels exist.

At the moment the demographic factor that exists and the growing divide between low and high income people means that the step towards paying a subscription to a streaming TV to watch a live sports broadcast is not yet taken.

The audience of traditional TV channels is now mainly driven by older people who watch on average an hour more TV than younger people. And many advertisers are getting drunk on cold water and smugly making their tables and charts with their pompous ratings and market shares, justifying the money they are throwing out of the window without regard to reality. Many sports broadcasts are watched by almost no one, and those who watch are insignificant to the advertiser’s target customer base, in other words they are not targeted, their products and services are not bought by them.

Advantages and disadvantages. Streaming vs Cable

Streaming has gained momentum in our country because terrestrial internet and 5G mobile networks are getting better and better and offer higher and higher quality streaming.

TVs are getting better and better, offering increasingly better picture quality in HD, ultraHD or 4K compared to watching a TV channel only in digital format.

Streaming gives you the biggest advantage – no commercials, your time is much better managed and used, you can now watch 2 episodes of a show instead of one, if you were watching all the commercials shoved down your throat by the broadcasters.

Some streaming services have services that allow you to pause the live stream to go grab a beer from the fridge, say, and then stream the video content from where you left it as if it were live.

On YOU TUBE, for example, you have the recap of an NBA game in 10 minutes comparable to 2+ hours if you were watching live on a normal TV channel with all the commercials, time-outs, etc.

Streaming saves time!

The main drawback is this fragmentation of content across competing platforms, and the question arises whether it’s worth paying for multiple streaming channels to get all the content you want. It just might be worth it.


Streaming in Romania takes off

According to, which in turn quotes, “in the second quarter of 2023 there was a general increase in the number of subscribers to streaming video services, with a steady progress in this regard since the advent of this type of entertainment”.

Now let’s talk about content, and here it seems that streaming channels are a bit of a disadvantage compared to traditional channels, because they lack news, and news is the most watched TV show in our country according to Mercury Research research conducted in June 2019. Of course news isn’t really watched by young people, but young people, who would be the perfect customers for streaming channels, don’t have much money. And then we find ourselves in a vicious cycle…

Waiting for streaming sport

Going back to the idea of our article and the relationship between streaming and sport and trying to formulate a conclusion, it is clear that we will not see Romanian sports broadcasts on streaming very soon, but an eventual increase in the cost of subscriptions to these channels and the need to have as many as possible will in the future lead many to cancel their cable subscriptions and lead many of those who sponsor these sports broadcasts and who feed ads to cable sports broadcasts to think about whether it is worth budgeting for something like this just to reach less active, less spendy, more static people with little money or an active, dynamic medium that is always willing to try something new. Young people, of course, have other forms of entertainment and greater mobility to watch certain sports and live broadcasts. But active young people (with jobs, not those sitting at home doing nothing with mum and dad), the ‘middle class’ as some call it, they can make the change and bring sport to streaming.

This paradigm shift will take some time, but eventually the trend will be imposed from outside because if we start to see more and more American sports broadcasts on streaming channels, we might then want something like this in Romania as soon as possible.

The future is clear for streaming TVs as long as they can keep the “ad-free” policy on their channels, manage to highlight some important news on their platform in the form of breaking news and bring sports to their channels.