For decades live sports coverage has been a significant attraction for cable subscribers. Yet, in recent years more people have realized that they can get the same content (if not more) from dedicated streaming services like Hulu, ESPN, and Netflix. Sports fans, in particular, can easily watch local, national, and international sporting events from the comfort of their homes with a streaming subscription. 

Coincidentally, the big question on many people’s minds as sports streaming subscriptions become more readily available is how many people actually use them and who are the people using them. CivicScience asked more than 3,000 U.S. adults people sports streaming subscription-related queries, and you might be surprised by the survey results.

A Quick Look at Sports Streaming Habits

Sports streaming services are still relatively niche, according to recent survey results. Surprisingly, only 6% of survey respondents stated that they are using a sports streaming subscription and like using it, while 5% said that although they use one, they might not keep it.  

Nearly 60% of people haven’t used a local or regional sports streaming service to watch collegiate or professional sports teams, nor are they interested in using one. Yet, perhaps most curious is that an additional 22% of survey respondents said they have never heard of sports streaming services.

Analyzing the findings uncovers an interesting correlation between the hours someone spends watching sports TV and if they use a sports streaming subscription. 

Survey respondents who watch more sports television used a streaming service for sports. In comparison, those who watch less television haven’t used one or are not interested in using one. For example, 29% of those who watch sports on TV between 5 to 10 hours a week use a streaming subscription. In contrast, only 10% of those who only watch 1 to 5 hours of sports TV a week use one.

According to survey results of another CivicScience study, cord-cutting in favor of streaming services is on the rise. Thus, it’s unsurprising that many sports fans who use a sports streaming service have also ‘cut the cord’ on traditional television.

Our findings revealed that of the people who use a sports streaming service, 73% have cut the cord on cable or satellite television. In contrast, of those who don’t use or are uninterested in sports streaming services, 37% said they cut the cord while an additional 27% are considering it. Sports-watching may be a driving reason for cord-cutting, although it’s evident that even those uninterested in sports streaming services are still turning toward other streaming platforms over satellite and cable services.

Among Sports Fans

Before delving into the hard-hitting sports streaming subscription questions, we looked at current sports fans numbers. Out of the large pool of respondents, the majority are interested in watching sports: 36% like watching sports and 37% are passionate about watching sports.

However, the findings are interesting when comparing how important watching sports are in a person’s life with their experience with sports streaming subscription services. 

Unsurprisingly, survey results show that of the people who are uninterested in watching sports, nearly all (92%) are also uninterested in using a sports streaming subscription. In contrast, nearly half of people who are “passionate” about watching sports have tried a sports streaming service or intend to – 22% currently use one, far above the Gen Pop average. 

However, 15% of these sports watchers have used a service but have since canceled it, and an additional 54% say they haven’t used one or are not interested in using one.

Among High School and College Sports Fans

Interestingly, when looking at high school sports fans, it is apparent that a large proportion (27%) of those who follow high school sports use a streaming service. 

On the other hand, only 18% of NCAA college football fans use a sports streaming service, while a whopping 68% don’t use one or are not interested in using one. Slightly more NCAA men’s college basketball fans say they use sports streaming services. All in all, streaming services appear to be more popular among high school sports fans than college sports fans. 

Among Major League Sports Fans

While analyzing the survey data, CivicScience determined that respondents who closely follow certain major league sports teams (national) are the most likely to use sports streaming subscriptions. 

According to findings comparing types of major league sports, soccer, basketball, and hockey fans are the most likely to use streaming services: 33% of MLS (Major League Soccer) followers, 27% of NBA followers and 26% of NHL followers currently have a sports streaming subscription. In comparison, just 16% of NFL fans say they use a streaming service.

However, despite these somewhat high percentages, the vast majority of major league sports fans are non-streamers.

Interestingly, when looking at a comparison of national women’s sports, data show that those most interested in following the WNBA use a sports streaming service more than those interested in other women’s sports. However, those who follow Women’s NCAA Basketball and Women’s UFC are most likely to have tried a service but canceled it.

Sports Streaming Subscriptions by Ages and Regions 

CivicScience found that younger adults under the age of 35 are significantly more likely than older adults to use a sports streaming subscription. 

According to the findings, 31% of those between the ages of 18 to 24 use a sports subscription service, while only 7% of those between the ages of 35 and 54 use one. Additionally, 7% of those between ages 18 and 24 are planning on using one, while far fewer of those older than 35 are looking into getting a service.

Which places in the United States are people most likely to use a sports streaming subscription? Sports streaming doesn’t appear to vary much by region. The Northeast, Midwest, South, and West each have 11% of respondents using a sports streaming subscription. Overall adoption is slightly higher in the Midwest and South.

Ultimately, it seems that sports streaming subscriptions are not as popular overall as some might have been led to believe. Yet people are using them, with more young adults committing to a sports streaming subscription than older adults. 

It’s also evident that those who are fans of the MLS, NBA and women’s basketball (WNBA and Women’s NCAA), and NHL are the most likely to have a sports streaming subscription.