Sports on U.S. TV - Statistics & Facts

People are turning away from traditional TV. Subscription numbers are at an all time low as people are turning off their sets and logging on to other devices. However, sports appear to be traditional TV’s saving grace, as the genre is still amongst the leading genres on primetime TV programming, with Super Bowl 50 being the leading single telecast TV program in 2016. In an attempt to avert the mass exodus from cable TV, networks are demonstrating their confidence in sports TV as they continue to heavily invest in sports league contracts. As of September 2016, the contract for the rights to broadcast the NFL, which is shared between NBC, FOX, and ESPN, was worth an estimated six billion U.S. dollars a year. Other large TV contracts include those for the FIFA World Cup and the NBA.


Watching sport on TV has many advantages. Recent advances in sports broadcasting such as PlayerCam and Hawk-Eye mean that people are now able to see and hear more of their favorite sports in the comfort of their own home, with consumers of all age groups still preferring to watch live sports on a traditional television set. Clashing TV schedules are a thing of the past as viewers are able to follow multiple sporting events at once with the aid of second screens. Second screen usage during the Super Bowl includes reacting to the game, sharing strategy, and posting photos.

The Super Bowl continues to be the most popular and expensive sports event in the American calendar with the half-time show and advertising deals dominating the headlines more than the game itself. Viewers are responding to Super Bowl advertising in new ways by turning to the internet and social media to give their opinion about the commercials.

However, it is not just the NFL and NBA which attract viewers. The 2014 FIFA World Cup marked one of the best performances for team USA and their popularity has contributed to the changing attitudes towards soccer in America. This is reflected in the rise in the number of TV viewers for important soccer games during the 2016 season. But it seems soccer’s popularity isn’t good news for everyone as the format of two uninterrupted halves with only fifteen minutes of half time means American advertisers are losing out on air time.

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Sports on TV in the U.S. - Important statistics

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