Apps to Cable: “Three Strikes and You’re Out!”

Simon Khalaf, CEO

Mark this past week as a win for cord cutters. Last Tuesday comScore released its latest video report that validated what many suspected: consumers want TV content on every device, not only on TV. Later that day, HBO announced an “Over the Top” streaming service. Two days later CBS announced its own subscription streaming service. These developments have made one thing clear: we are witnessing a massive change in the way viewers consume TV content. In honor of the World Series which starts today, we will use a baseball analogy to illustrate this shift.

Strike One: Cable started to lose the movies-on-demand market to internet companies like Netflix. Strike Two: Companies like Hulu, and now CBS, swooped in to take broadcast share. So what’s left? One industry perception is that cable has one last massive weapon to defend its lock on television content consumption: live sports. In fact, CBS announced the NFL would be carved-out of its new streaming service.

But today, as the World Series kicks off, Flurry Analytics uncovered an interesting trend that could signal Strike Three: Sports Fans are turning to apps to follow live sports, keep up with scores, trade their fantasy players, and watch game highlights.

Time Spent in Sports Apps More Than Triples

For this report on sports app usage, we first examined the worldwide growth in monthly total time spent in apps from August 2013 to August 2014. Overall, time spent in the 580,000 apps that use Flurry Analytics increased 65% in 2014 compared to last year (“All Apps” in the chart below). However when we looked more closely at the sports category, we saw time spent in sports apps more than tripled at 210% from the year before. This includes apps that Flurry tracks that place themselves in the “Sports” category in the iOS and Android app stores. These apps report on sports news, scores, and schedules and include fantasy team management.

We next broke out apps that are explicitly geared toward American football. Time spent in “Football Apps” has grown by 250% year-over-year, an astounding number. When it comes to sports, mobile users use apps to follow the professional play-by-play, especially for football.


Profile of Sports App Fans

So who are the mobile users spending so much time in sports apps? Flurry’s Sports App Fans are consumers that use sports apps more than 2 times the average app users. For example, if the average consumer launches sports apps 3 times a day, then we would call any consumer that launches sports apps more than 6 times a day a Sports App Fan.

Sports App Fans are 12.8x more likely to be football fans and are also more likely than the average user to be casual, social gamers or play action games. Fair warning: Sports App Fans may want to download a couple dating apps, too, since they are also 2.3x more likely to be single.

Sports App Fans are also 2.3x more likely to be business travelers than the average app user. When these fans are on the road and their game isn’t available on TV outside their market, they turn to mobile devices to follow every sack, interception and touchdown.


Sports Apps Are The New Must-Have Sports Channels

Flurry data suggests our Sports Apps Fans want to consume their sports content wherever they go- be it at work, while traveling, in front of the living room TV, or even at the game. The tripling of time spent in sports apps is tough to ignore for teams, content providers and advertisers. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings believes the Internet is replacing traditional television, apps are replacing channels, and screens are proliferating. While live sports are still cable’s stronghold, if the announcements of last week are any indication, this could be strike three. Keep your eye on the ball.