Stillman School of Business

Sports Fans Cutting Cords, Wading into the Stream: 9 Pt. Drop in Cable, 6 in Satellite Subscriptions Last Year  

sportsThe Seton Hall Sports Poll found a nine point drop in cable and six in satellite subscriptions among sports fans last year.

The television landscape has been gradually shifting for years, and the Seton Hall Sports Poll has been tracking this shift in how the American public is watching sports.

In comparison to a May 2021 Seton Hall Sports Poll, cable and satellite TV subscriptions among all respondents were down. For cable, the drop was 11 points (from 36 percent to 25); for satellite it was 6 points (19 percent to 13).

Among those who said they were not “sports fans” the decline in subscriptions was greater: cable subscriptions were down in these households 13 points (31 percent to 18) and satellite was down from 14 to 8 points (14 percent to 8) in that 12-month period.

Among self-described sports fans the numbers for those subscribed to cable and satellite also dropped, but slightly less so with 9 points for cable (39 percent to 30) and 6 points for satellite (22 percent to 16).


The decline in cable and satellite subscriptions among all respondents’ households amounts to a 31 percent decrease for cable and 32 percent for satellite over the course of the year.

For those who do not describe themselves as sports fans, the decline was 42 percent for cable and 43 percent for satellite.

Among self-described sports fans, the decline for cable subscriptions in their households was 23 percent and 27 percent for satellite.

“Long has been an axiom in the media business that live sports are keeping the networks afloat with their strong viewership. And these numbers, showing sports fans hanging on to the cord in greater numbers than the general population, bears that out,” said Professor Charles Grantham, Director of the Center for Sport Management within Seton Hall’s Stillman School of Business, which sponsors the Poll. “But the numbers also show a drop of major concern among sports fans – there’s a new kid in town and now the leagues and networks need to work on their streaming game.”

These were the findings of a Seton Hall Sports Poll conducted this last month among 1,514 adults across the country. The poll features a national representative sample weighted on U.S. Census Bureau figures for gender, age, ethnicity, education, income and geography and has a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percent.

Wading into the Stream with Soccer

NBC is one company preparing for a shift to streaming and their Peacock network has doubled its subscribers among sports fans in the last year, largely it would seem because of its coverage of Premier League football (soccer) among American viewers.

Among all respondents Peacock was up six points (from nine percent saying that they subscribed to the service in May 2021 to 15 percent in May 2022). Among sports fans that number jumped from 10 percent in 2021 to 20 percent this year – a hundred percent increase.

Baseball’s Stream Dammed?

The shift to baseball streaming, however, is not without its challenges. The poll asked if Major League Baseball’s foray into streaming services this year (Apple TV+, Amazon Prime and Peacock), has made it more difficult to watch games. Among those who describe themselves as “avid sports fans,” 56 percent said yes to this versus 40 percent saying no. Among those who describe themselves as sports fans, 37 percent said yes it was more difficult to watch games versus 56 percent saying no. And among the general population, 24 percent said yes and 65 percent said no.

Stream Subscribe

Asked which streaming services one’s household has a paid subscription to, among all respondents Amazon Prime (46 percent saying yes) and Netflix (at 47 percent) received the highest “yes” response. These numbers slightly dropped, with Amazon registering 48 percent in 2021 and Netflix 51.

Among sports fans Amazon Prime dropped from 47 to 46 percent over the last year, while Netflix dropped 9 points – from 53 to 44 percent.

‘The question is… can a streaming platform continue to grow without live sports?” said Seton Hall Marketing Professor and Poll Methodologist Daniel Ladik. “While Amazon Prime does, Netflix does not stream live sports and sticks to its sports documentaries. This question is something the Seton Hall Sports Poll will track going forward.”

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Questions with charted breakdowns below; an online version of this release may be found at

May 2022 Seton Hall Sports Poll Results

This SHSP was conducted May 5th through May 9th and includes responses from 1,514 US adults with a margin of error of 3.2%. The sample mirrors the US Census percentages on age, gender, income, education, ethnicity, and region.

Q1. Which, if any, of the following statements best describes you?

  • I am an avid sports fan 21%
  • I am a sports fan 35%
  • I am not a sports fan 44%

[NOTE: in the tables below, Avid fans + Casual fans = Sports Fans]

Q5c. Does the broadcasting of MLB across multiple different streaming platforms make it more difficult for you to watch games? E.g. Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, etc.

Watching MLB Across Different Streaming Platforms
N=1,514 ALL Sports Fan Non Fan Avid Fan Casual Fan
Yes 27% 37% 14% 54% 27%
No 61% 55% 69% 41% 64%
Don't know/No opinion 12% 8% 17% 5% 9%

Q9a. Many of the best soccer matches can only be seen from behind a pay service and require soccer fans to sign up for a subscription.

Do you subscribe to any streaming or cable services that require additional payment with the intent of watching soccer? E.g. ESPN+ for Bundesliga, Peacock for English Premier League, Paramount+ for UEFA Champions League and NWSL etc.

Subscriptions to streaming or cable services that offer soccer
N=730 General Population Sports Fan Non Fan Avid Fan Casual Fan
Yes 42% 50% 14% 71% 33%
No 50% 43% 75% 26% 58%
Don't know/No opinion 8% 7% 11% 3% 9%

Q14.Within your household, including all members of the household, which, if any, of the following media services does the household have a PAID subscription for? Please check all that apply.

Subscriptions to paid streaming services in the household
May 2022
May 2021
Δ Sports Fan
May 2022
Sports Fan
May 2021
Δ Non Fan
May 2022
Non Fan
May 2021
Cable TV 25% 36% -11 30% 39% -9 18% 31% -13
Satellite TV 13% 19% -6 16% 22% -6 8% 14% -6
Netflix 47% 51% -4 44% 53% -9 52% 48% +4
Disney+ 26% 26% 0 26% 29% -3 25% 23% +2
Amazon Prime 46% 48% -2 46% 47% -1 46% 49% -3
Hulu 31% 29% +2 32% 29% +3 30% 29% +1
Apple TV+ 13% 11% +2 16% 15% +1 9% 6% +3
Peacock 15% 9% +6 20% 10% +10 10% 8% +2
Discovery+ 10% 10% 0 12% 11% +1 7% 8% -1
HBO Max 22% 17% +5 23% 21% +2 20% 12% +8
Other (write in) 8% 4% +4 7% 4% +3 10% 6% +4
No opinion 14% 8% +6 10% 5% +5 20% 12% +8

-May 2022 SHSP: conducted May 5th through May 9th and includes responses from 1,514 US adults with a margin of error of 3.2%

-May 2021 SHSP: conducted May 21st through May 24th and includes responses from 1,554 US adults with a margin of error of 3.2%


The Seton Hall Sports Poll, conducted regularly since 2006, is performed by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business. This poll was conducted online by YouGov Plc. using a national representative sample weighted according to gender, age, ethnicity, education, income and geography, based on U.S. Census Bureau figures. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S residents. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. The Seton Hall Sports Poll has been chosen for inclusion in iPoll by Cornell’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research and its findings have been published everywhere from USA Today, ESPN, The New York Times, Washington Post, AP, and Reuters to CNBC, NPR, Yahoo Finance, Fox News and many points in between.

Media: Michael Ricciardelli, Associate Director of Media Relations, Seton Hall University [email protected], 908-447-3034; Marty Appel, [email protected]

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