BLOG | by Charlie Dundas

TV sport may still be king for younger people – but they are also the lifeblood of streaming

With some commentators arguing that OTT companies are more vulnerable to current stresses in the market, we thought we’d look at how the loss of streaming capacity would affect younger sports consumers.

We looked at sports media consumption across five big European markets. Our chart below allows you to compare the habits of younger segments (in most cases 18-29-year-olds) to the general population in each country. It also makes comparison between markets possible.

The national picture

First, let’s look at overall populations.

As you can see, when it comes to watching/following sport, live TV is still king in each market, being up to three times more popular than people’s second favourite choice.

That second favourite medium then varies by country. In the UK, Germany and France, it’s TV highlights/repeats. But in Italy and Spain there is much less appetite for sport in this format and live streaming of sport is the next most popular option.

In fact, live streaming is now an established medium in all of these markets. More than 15% of people choose it as an option for watching/following sport in every market, with uptake being the lowest in France (15%) and highest in Spain (25%).

As a medium for consuming sport, social media probably shows most variance across our markets. In the UK and Italy it’s the third most popular way to watch/follow sport. But in other countries it is markedly less popular – for example, it is the fifth most popular medium in both Spain and Germany.

Mobile apps fall low down the list in most countries – and are the least popular option here in three of five markets.

Finally, it’s worth noting that while we don’t include them in our chart (for reasons of readability), that both radio and newspapers remain popular channels for the consumption of sport. On average, across our markets, 22% follow/watch sport via the papers, while 21% do the same via radio. This strong showing makes them the third and fourth most popular media channels – showing that there is life in old dogs yet.

Younger consumers

Now let’s look specifically at younger audiences (the chart is reproduced above for ease of reference).

One rule that still applies is that live TV continues to be the most popular way to watch sport – although in every market, it is slightly less popular among younger people than it is with the overall population.

It is also the case that watching/following via social media and via mobile apps is more popular among younger populations than it is with the overall population in each market – in some cases more than twice as popular.

The same is also true of streaming – both of live sport and highlights/other content (meaning that a reduction in streaming capacity would disproportionately disrupt these groups’ consumption).

But interestingly, while there are significant differences between younger people’s habits across markets, those differences tend not to exist when it comes to live streaming.

Young people in all of our markets turn to live streaming in the same proportions – roughly 30% – telling us that market penetration for the medium is uniform and even. Compare that to mobile app use for watching/following sport, where there is, for example a greater than 100% variance in use between some markets among younger people.

When it comes to live streaming of sport, France and Italy are the countries with the biggest differences between the habits of younger people and the wider national consumption patterns. In both cases, the difference is more than ten percentage points (and is very close to ten in the UK too).

The streaming of highlights or other sport content (as opposed to live sport) tells a slightly different story and the medium appears less compelling for some young people for this type of programming.

Younger people in Spain and Italy, for example, would rather use any other medium to follow or watch sport than watch streamed highlights or other content, which would suggest a strong preference for live sports over all other types of programming in these countries.


A wealth of insight can be taken away from this little slice of data but our key takeaway is that there is no set hierarchy of sports consumption across our markets.

Habits vary both between markets as a whole and between the younger people within those markets. One thing seems clear – that while younger people may still prefer to watch live sport on TV, they are also the lifeblood of streaming companies today. That represents a great strength for streaming companies – and a vital way of reaching new audiences for rights-holders.

BLOG | by Charlie Dundas

Commercial Director

With over 15 years’ experience in the sports and sponsorship field, Charlie’s role at YouGov Sport (SMG Insight) is to develop new market opportunities as the company continues to grow internationally. He also assists established and future clients to get the most from YouGov Sport’s market-leading tools and research techniques.


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