A survey published by the International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship shows that football fans are willing to pay an average €3.73 for highlight reports and matches via the internet.
Research conducted by Sven Theysohn of Frankfurt's Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University polled 12,600 fans of seven German Bundesliga clubs on attitudes towards internet football services. The findings indicate that internet reports could have a dramatic effect on the television industry in the near future.
Currently, Pay-TV operators have relied on football as the key subscription driver, resulting in huge rights fees for prime European football content. Theysohn believes the internet could be a threat to the model, especially as consumers would be able to watch their soccer match of choice, independent of time and location:
"The quick distribution of broadband as well as the growing popularity of paid content and particularly video streaming services could turn soccer reports on the internet into a viable alternative to traditional media channels."
Other key findings in the survey include: The estimated willingness to pay (WTP) for football highlights on the internet German Bundesliga is high. Respondents with fewer or no alternatives to watch a match report have a higher willingness to pay than others. Fans based overseas are willing to pay an average of €6 for a video report of their favourite side. Fans of the best ranked team show the highest WTP among all teams, but there is little correlation between the WTP and team success.
Different demographic segments demonstrate different levels of WTP and prefer different report packages. 'Old bachelors' prefer to watch the whole game, but are willing to pay less, whereas 'family men' prefer shorter reports but have a high WTP. 'Young enthusiasts' rate report length the key motivating factor and have the highest WTP of all segments. There is a demand for a full-game report and a 10-minute highlight version in the overall market.
The rapid availability of soccer reports on the internet is only reasonably important to one segment in the sample - and unimportant to the others. The survey suggests that football clubs could be in a strong position to either stream their own content, or profit from it, rather than rely on the distribution infrastructure of the television operators. This potential remains regardless of whether the internet replaces existing distribution channels.
According to Theysohn: "The yet undeveloped market of soccer reports via the internet can be viewed as a promising instrument for professional soccer clubs to reach both potential and existing consumers worldwide, to enhance their marketing strategies and to generate new income sources."