Has mobile viewing and interaction changed the way consumers watch sport? July 13, 2015

Has mobile viewing and interaction changed the way consumers watch sport?

This month we asked our panel of consumers about how they watch sport, and if this has changed. With the rise in mobile viewing and predictions that it will more than double over the next few years, we wondered what our panel was doing, and how and if their sports viewing habits were changing.

Sports are fairly unique. Unlike most other forms of entertainment, sports need to be consumed live, or if that is not possible, almost immediately after the event has taken place. As watching live is such a big priority, if any form of entertainment was suited to mobile viewing, it’s sports.

However despite the fact that ‘live sports’ and ‘watch whenever and wherever’ seem to be a perfect combination, we found attitudes towards mobile viewing are still mixed. There is still a core group of ‘sports traditionalists’, for whom live sport on TV still rules. This group cannot contemplate the thought of watching any other way. Says one respondent; ‘I must be old fashioned because I prefer to watch at home on a decent sized screen’. This group associates sport with the occasion of watching a game, getting together with friends, enjoying the atmosphere and does not feel the need to keep up with the latest results 24/7. Another surprise was a second large group who simply said ‘I don’t watch live sports’. For these people, increased accessibility to sports through online and mobile is more of an annoyance than a convenience. They are not interested and will simply go even further out of their way to avoid it.

It is the main group of existing avid sports fans who are changing the way they view sports and taking advantage of mobile viewing. Increased exposure to sports and results on the go is seen as a major plus by these people. As one respondent says; ‘AFL season; my tablet attached to me, keeping track of scores, other games that are not on TV, and injury updates’. According to another panel member; ‘it’s wonderful I think that people can feel free to be out and about but not miss out on seeing their sport’.

It’s not just keeping up with the latest scores and news that is appealing to this group. Other benefits include interacting via social media with other viewers during a live game, which makes people feel more involved even if they are not there. And in addition, the increased variety of sports now available to watch was mentioned by many. For this group, mobile viewing enhances sport rather than spoils it.

The increased access to information on the go does come with one issue; spoilers! There is a general agreement that it is becoming increasingly difficult not to hear the results when you don’t want to, before having had a chance to watch the game. However all things considered, the feedback from our panel suggests that when it comes to sports, the benefits of mobile viewing and interaction for existing sports fans far outweigh the negatives. While it seems unlikely that mobile viewing will entice any new fans into the world of sport, it is certainly changing and benefiting viewing for those for whom sports are already an integral part of their lives.

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