Broadcasting vs Streaming

The landscape of sports broadcasting

Not only due to the pandemic, the versatile and interactive streaming offers in sport have gained further in importance. Broadcasting is holding its own with the usual quality features.

Traditional broadcast or streaming option – a few years ago, if you wanted to follow your favourite football club or a special sporting event from around the world, you were most likely to choose the traditional broadcast. In the meantime, it can be said: User behaviour has changed. Internet connections that are many times faster as well as new and professionally managed platforms that also take into account the “special interest” factor have recently changed the landscape of sports broadcasting more and more.

Whether traditional broadcasting will be pushed into the background by new streaming options in the medium or long term remains to be seen. However, the most obvious disadvantage of the streaming offers of earlier days has long ceased to be one: Whereas the larger audience was initially missing, streams on YouTube or Twitch have long since generated figures that no longer have to hide behind those of TV broadcasts. In addition, clubs and leagues have also realigned themselves in this respect and adapted and expanded their own offerings.

One of the biggest differences between broadcasting and streaming remains the way viewers consume and interact with the respective content. Streaming apps are designed so that users around the world can watch the same thing in real time and interact with it if necessary. In a “normal” broadcast, direct interaction between recipients is not mandatory.

Pandemic temporarily put the brakes on sports streaming growth

Of course, the Corona pandemic in the past two years also brought completely new challenges to the broadcasting and streaming sectors. After the entire world of sport came to a standstill in the first quarter of 2020 and professional sport was only practised and broadcast again bit by bit, the associated framework conditions changed: Virtual audiences or reporters who did not commentate from the hall or the stadium initially needed time to get used to.

In the USA, for example, it took until October 2021 before the five major sports leagues NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS were back to the level of January 2020 in terms of streaming views. The situation was different in the European market, however, which was the first in the world to record slight growth during the pandemic in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The bottom line is this: Not least due to the pandemic, livestreams tailored to the user are enjoying ever greater interest – especially in the target group of 13 to 35-year-olds. Traditional broadcasting may (still) have a higher overall quality in the majority of cases and, especially with regard to leading sports such as football, not lose its significance and importance, but the professionalisation of streaming and its corresponding platforms is progressing more and more and offers the user new, welcome options.


Further texts on related topics from the fields of broadcasting and streaming will follow on the SportsInnovation website in the coming weeks.

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