Popularity of online sports grows, says CEA study

Thirty-eight percent of sports fans will download and watch a game via the Internet at no cost over the next two years, an increase of 10 percent from 2007, according to a new study.

Networks are offering fans the ability to watch games online, including the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, in response to the increased appetite of fans for online sports.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) study also found sports fans are going online for information, statistics and highlights when they are geographically separated from their favorite team. Forty-one percent of basketball fans say their favorite team is located in a different city, compared with 26 percent who say they live in the same city as their favorite team.

Fifty-five percent of U.S. households currently have broadband Internet access, making it easier to access team information and watch game highlights. The study found that more than half of HDTV-owning sports fans, or those sports fans intending to buy an HDTV, will watch highlight clips online, from sources such as YouTube or espn.com.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is also helping drive sales of HDTVs. This year’s tournament will help inspire the purchase of 934,000 HDTVs, which represents slightly more than $1 billion in retail sales, according to the association.

CEA’s “Third Annual Sports and Technology” survey was fielded to an online national sample of 2278 U.S. adults Jan. 14–21. Results were weighted to reflect national online demographics. The margin of sampling error at 95 percent confidence for aggregate results is +/- 2.1percent.

For more information, visit: www.ce.org and www.ebrain.org.