Wimbledon 2017: YouTube, Hulu, Sling TV serve up bonanza for cable 'cord-cutters'

America’s fast growing community of cord cutters which has ditched pay television never had it so good in Wimbledon season for so less.

Or for free!

Back in 2011, ESPN snapped up Wimbledon tennis rights from NBC for 12 years. But with the American Pay TV industry suffering its worst subscriber loss numbers - more than 720,000 customers have reportedly switched off in the first three months of 2017, the time is ripe to ask how tennis  junkies are getting their Wimbledon fix.

Cord cutters in search of their Wimbledon diet are getting it for free or at best $ 40 per month at the upper end while America’s cable TV viewers have a fixed price of anywhere between $100-200 for a routine bundle that includes a clutch of legacy sports channels.

The most recent numbers from Pew, a fact tank, say nearly four-in-ten US adults (38%) get news and related live content from digital sources, including news websites or apps (28%) and social networking sites (18%). That trails the 57% who often get news from a television source but outpaces both radio (25%) and print newspapers (20%).

Livestream options rain down for cord cutters in Wimbledon season/ Reuters pic

Livestream options rain down for cord cutters in Wimbledon season/ Reuters pic

On average, one in seven Americans had turned away from pay TV two years ago, according to data from Pew. This trend hurts not just the the cable TV company like say Verizon or AT&T but the networks and ecosystems that benefit from appointment viewing for a fixed monthly fee.

Sling TV, a downloadable app, is offering a 7 day free trial to hook new customers wandering in during the Wimbledon bump.

Youtube TV is offering Wimbledon fortnight for free for new users with the first billing cycle of $ 35 beginning only in August.

Hulu is also free for new users with paid plans starting as low as below $ 8 with no ads and a beta version of premium offerings for $39.99.

This is not the only gift that keeps on giving in Wimbledon season, other digital sources are outdoing each other in pampering the sports junkie who wants more of the live moment and less punditry.

Key in “Wimbledon” on Google and it’s raining draws and schedules for the third Grand Slam of 2017. It’s easy to forget that even just a few years ago, printing draws and schedules were so then, ‘tennis writers’ and their ‘take’ on matches was what got maximum play.

Not any longer. The shakeout in the broadcasting industry is driving more traffic to the real action and facts, draws, graphics and schedules - and letting sports fans deal with post mortem at their convenience.

The Wimbledon Channel on Twitter has an all day live stream of select matches and nearly every tweet is video - eye candy for the casual observer, online collectibles for the obsessed and snippets from history for those who didn’t make the trip to SW19.

In the exhausting scramble for eyeballs among publishers, consumers of live sporting event via digital are enjoying a bonanza at Wimbledom. The wealth of choices that users confront is pushing the hosts to deliver more of the real stuff with less fuss.

We haven't mentioned the mighty Facebook even once yet. Although Facebook and YouTube neck and neck in the race for live-streaming dominance, Facebook has only recently matched YouTube in giving publishers a 55 percent cut of ad dollars to seed real-time offerings.

Both Facebook and YouTube have sprung a bunch of live-streaming partnerships around sports which bends heavily towards live viewership versus DVR use - the comScore ratio for the same is 90%-10%.

While Facebook leads in overall livestream engagement and YouTube Live comes a close second, it’s ‘over the top’ (OTT) offerings that are in sharp focus during sport driven business spikes.

All five of the biggest Pay TV companies in the U.S. have rolled out skinny bundles - fewer channels for less money. The average skinny bundle is roughly $40 /month while the average cable package in America is around $100 +/month

Updated Date: Jul 07, 2017 09:35 AM

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