With Live Sports Sidelined, Sports Fans Are Increasingly Tuning Into These Networks

By A.J. Katz 

With live sports broadcasts being sidelined due to the increasing spread of COVID-19, the fans who don’t want to watch rebroadcasts of classic games are now starting to look for other types of content during the week and on weekends. Streaming services and linear television news outlets are both seeing a significant lift among regular sports TV fans.

In fact, last weekend, regular sports fans spent 47% more time streaming compared to the previous weekend, according to data from Inscape, which pulls automatic content recognition (ACR) information from more than 14 million Vizio television sets. (“Regular sports fans” were defined as viewers who normally spent at least one continuous hour watching sports programming.)

Adweek’s Kelsey Sutton writes: “About 10% of those viewers didn’t watch linear TV at all when sports weren’t available, according to the data. Instead, they switched over to a variety of different programming, including comedies, dramas, documentaries and news.”


Data from Inscape has found that C-SPAN saw the biggest viewership bump among sports fans, with 40% of normal sports viewers tuning in, followed by CNN, which saw a 35% increase.

That conclusion makes sense, particularly if we consider our recent stories about year-over-year and week-to-week ratings growth for broadcast and cable news outlets, growth that’s happening due to an increasing appetite for coverage of the coronavirus.

The study also finds that among non-news cable networks, Discovery Family, Travel Channel and the Spanish-language Universo saw the biggest boost in viewership from normal sports viewers.