Thanks to the big three—Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime—consumers have become accustomed to viewing their various forms of entertainment on their own terms within the confines of their own schedules.

With viewers taking charge of the logistics of what, when, how, and where they watch, there has been decreasing motivation to hold onto that cable television account, with one exception. As recently as 2015, 49 percent of those who regularly watch more than one sport said that if they could live stream their sports, they would cut the cord in a heartbeat.

Fast forward to 2019, and the landscape is dramatically changing.

What was typically seen as an alternative platform for sports viewing just a few years ago is quickly becoming the norm. While the full impact remains to be seen, certainly this evolving form of sports viewing is making its mark on the world of professional athletics and broadcasting.

But what impact is live streaming having on the sports arena at large?

First, consider that sporting events are a major income generator for broadcast companies. DirecTV alone pays out $1 billion to the National Football League every season.[2] Attached to this deal are millions of subscribers and billions of dollars in profits. With more ways to watch from other providers, these profits could diminish.

The number of live streaming apps is growing, and many like Periscope, Snapchat, and Meerkat are already hugely popular. Their ease of use and convenience are two major selling points, and demand continues to increase. Along with this method comes an increased need for reliable and fast internet connections, however. In addition, to truly benefit from streaming live television, devices such as Roku or the Amazon firestick are must-haves. Fortunately, this equipment continues to grow more affordable. Furthermore, viewers might be more willing to plunk down the extra cash if they are able to ditch the monthly cable commitment in the process.

Cable providers will likely feel the financial effects, but as long as there are fans, there will be a way for those organizations to recover any losses. On the plus side, the sports community can now engage in dialogue and analyses live during events via their mobile devices. In addition, streaming allows teams to interact more directly with fans, increasing their popularity and doing wonders for their brands.

It’s not time to hold vigils for the cable providers just yet. The cable channels still have a large viewership, and while their numbers will likely continue to decrease, people, being people, like to stick with what they know. As a result, cable will not disappear completely anytime soon. What’s more likely is that cable providers will branch out and offer streaming services or other products to fill the revenue gaps.

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