The coronavirus has canceled or postponed practically every sporting event for the time being and if the 2020 NFL season also budges, it could be bad for pay TV.
That’s according to Killthecablebill.com, which surveyed 1,003 cable subscribers and found that 33% said they could cancel their TV service if the NFL season was postponed.
Last month, many NFL owners remained confident that the 2020 NFL season would go as planned and that the schedule would not be affected by the coronavirus. However, the League has now decided to make its annual draft a virtual event and plans to hold a mock draft test run before the actual draft.
If the NFL does need to postpone its season, it would hardly be alone. MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA, PGA and more sports leagues and associations have already had to cancel or delay regular season games and major events including March Madness, the Masters and Wimbledon.
The loss of current seasons and other live sports could potentially be a big deciding factor for pay TV subscribers who are considering dropping their service. The survey found that 66% of cable subscribers say live sports is a significant reason for their subscribing and another 34% of cable subscribers say the current lack of live sports could impact whether they keep their cable subscription.
The organization’s survey also found that 15% of respondents said they are "very likely" to cancel if NFL gets postponed and that the longer live sports stay off the air, the more likely subscribers will cancel.
Pay TV providers have already warned that 2020 could be another year of accelerated subscriber losses. Traditional pay TV operators dropped 6 million subscribers in 2019, and UBS predicted that the U.S. pay TV industry will lose another 6.2 million video subscribers in 2020.