With Covid-19, we’re living in a moment where days are blending into weeks, then months. As shelter-in-place directives continue in many parts of the world, the need to stay connected to friends, family and trusted, real-time news and information has never been more vital.
While streaming, social media, and online chats have been a boon to many, perhaps the biggest story to emerge from these truly strange days is the enduring appeal of live television. This medium was already undergoing a dramatic evolution of its own before the pandemic hit. With the pandemic keeping everyone at home, however, live television viewership numbers are rapidly reversing years of viewership decline.
Since early spring, everything from reality shows, fan-favorite scripted series, and especially live news have continued to surge in the ratings with homebound viewers looking to stay entertained and informed during the lockdown.
Especially when it comes to live news, viewers around the world are gravitating towards trusted news sources for expert analysis, context, and fact-checking. In the U.S., CNN recently clocked its largest audience in 40 years and 120% growth over last year at the same time. CNBC, BBC World News, and Euronews all reported substantial Q2 ratings upswings as well.
But perhaps the most exciting news for live television fans right now is that after months of pandemic-related cancellations and delays, live sports are now officially back in play.
Sports fans around the world are more than ready to get their game on, and the ratings reflect that truth. The return of Spain’s La Liga football league, Italy’s Serie A, Italian Cup, Germany’s Bundesliga league, PGA Tour golf, and NASCAR have been met with massive viewership numbers. The first round of the NFL Draft saw an average of 15.6 million viewers on opening night alone—an growth of 37% over the previous year’s opening night. And there’s more to come: the European Tour will resume play on July 22 with the Betfred British Masters in Newcastle, and the French Open is set to run Sept. 20–Oct. 4. NHL and NBA aficionados will also soon enjoy live sports once again.
Though athletes may be playing to empty arenas and following other safety protocols, the good news for sports fans is that the communal thrill of live televised sports is back and better than ever—and that’s especially great news for people who need to travel during the pandemic and are looking for a little slice of normalcy while they do it.
“There is definitely a huge appetite for live sports right now,” says Tori Johnston, Service Product Line Manager for Live Television and Content at Panasonic Avionics. “Sports fans have been clamoring for content during the pandemic. The fact that they can’t root for their favorite teams and players in person at present makes live coverage of sporting events that much more resonant and impactful.”
“There is definitely a huge appetite for live sports right now.”Tori Johnston
Service Product Line Manager for Live Television and Content at Panasonic Avionics
With Sport 24 ramping up its onboard content schedule as more leagues around the world make a comeback, the inflight viewing options for frequent flyer sports fans are definitely something to cheer about.
A whopping 85% of self-described “avid sports fans” (and 67% of all sports fans) view watching live sports as a way to feel normal again amid the pandemic, according to ESPN’s recent coronavirus fan study. For airlines, meeting that demand inflight presents a massive opportunity, especially as airlines look for new ways to comfort passengers overwhelmed by new air travel safety measures.
“Flying can be stressful for many passengers even during the best of times,” says Johnston. “And with a host of new regulations and safety protocols changing the passenger experience further still, a robust live television offering featuring both news and live sports content is just one more way airlines can help passengers remain calm, entertained, and connected during these uncertain times.“
Contact us to learn how your airline can benefit from live television.