Sports Streaming Interest in the U.S.
The global streaming revolution is well underway, and sports streaming is no different.
In 2022, 85% of Americans had a streaming account and 58% had more than one. And with old exclusive cable deals winding down, sports streaming interest has grown from both consumers and providers, including sports leagues, streamers, and cable providers.
This graphic from ExpressVPN provides an overview of sports streaming interest in America by using Google Trends data to examine the most searched-for sports.
Sports Streaming Search Trends
Examining the frequency of streaming sports queries reveals both important sporting events and the effects of COVID-19.
From 2017 to 2021, some of the notable and recurring spikes in sports streaming interest occurred around the following dates:
- Early January to Mid-February, coinciding with the NFL playoff season and the Superbowl.
- Early June, coinciding with the NBA and NHL finals playoffs and the UEFA Champion’s League final.
- Early September, coinciding with the start of the NFL regular season, and cascading into October for the start of the MLB playoffs and NBA and NHL regular seasons.
One major exception? The end of August in 2017 saw the largest spike in searches, likely for the professional boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor. Illegal streams alone reached nearly 3 million viewers.
And of course, interest in 2020 bottomed out in March during the start of the pandemic, picking back up in July once the first sports leagues restarted.
Sports Streaming Popularity by States and Hot Dates
From 2017 to 2021, soccer, basketball, and football saw notable surges in streaming interest.
With football and baseball long considered as America’s favorite pastimes, the uptick for soccer is especially notable. The sport’s popularity in the U.S. has tripled in the last decade, which may continue to climb as the 2026 World Cup will be hosted in North America.
But when looking at the most popular sport in all 50 states by streaming interest, football and basketball came out on top.
|State||Top Searched Sport|
|New Jersey||🏀 Basketball|
|New Mexico||🏀 Basketball|
|New York||🏀 Basketball|
|North Carolina||🏀 Basketball|
|North Dakota||🏀 Basketball|
|Rhode Island||🏀 Basketball|
|South Carolina||🏈 Football|
|South Dakota||🏀 Basketball|
|West Virginia||🏀 Basketball|
By number of states, basketball takes the first spot. 30 states including California and much of the Northeastern U.S. searched for NBA streams above other sports, reflecting the rising success of the league.
Football was second, with NFL stream searches leading in 19 states including Texas and Florida. But in terms of overall popularity, searches for NFL streams were still more popular than NBA streams in both 2017 and 2021.
The sole standout was Minnesota, which searched for NHL streams above all other sports.
TV’s Influence on Sports
Another factor to consider in sports streaming interest is the influential effect of other popular content.
For example, search interest for Formula 1 streams spiked alongside the introduction of the Netflix documentary on the sport, Drive to Survive. Likewise, the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit led to record-breaking interest in chess.
And as sports executives know all too well, having overly entertaining or charismatic individuals can also spark attention. Muhammad Ali had an oversize impact on boxing. Tiger Woods causes ratings and attendance for golf events to skyrocket.
What events, or people, will be the next to drive sports streaming interest in the U.S.? And which sport will benefit?
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
How Much Do Americans Trust the Media?
Media trust among Americans has reached its lowest point since Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
How Much Do Americans Trust the Media?
Media trust among Americans has reached its lowest point in six years.
Gallup began its survey on media trust in 1972, repeating it in 1974 and 1976. After a long period, the public opinion firm restarted the polls in 1997 and has asked Americans about their confidence level in the mass media—newspapers, TV, and radio—almost every year since then.
The above graphic illustrates Gallup’s latest poll results, conducted in September 2023.
Americans’ Trust in Mass Media, 1972-2023
Americans’ confidence in the mass media has sharply declined over the last few decades.
|Trust in the mass media||% Great deal/Fair amount||% Not very much||% None at all|
In 2016, the number of respondents trusting media outlets fell below the tally of those who didn’t trust the media at all. This is the first time that has happened in the poll’s history.
That year was marked by sharp criticism of the media from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
In 2017, the use of the term ‘fake news’ rose by 365% on social media, and the term was named the word of the year by dictionary publisher Collins.
The Lack of Faith in Institutions and Social Media
Although there’s no single reason to explain the decline of trust in the traditional media, some studies point to potential drivers.
According to Michael Schudson, a sociologist and historian of the news media and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, in the 1970s, faith in institutions like the White House or Congress began to decline, consequently impacting confidence in the media.
“That may have been a necessary corrective to a sense of complacency that had been creeping in—among the public and the news media—that allowed perhaps too much trust: we accepted President Eisenhower’s lies about the U-2 spy plane, President Kennedy’s lies about the ‘missile gap,’ President Johnson’s lies about the war in Vietnam, President Nixon’s lies about Watergate,”
Michael Schudson – Columbia Journalism School
More recently, the internet and social media have significantly changed how people consume media. The rise of platforms such as X/Twitter and Facebook have also disrupted the traditional media status quo.
Partisans’ Trust in Mass Media
Historically, Democrats have expressed more confidence in the media than Republicans.
Democrats’ trust, however, has fallen 12 points over the past year to 58%, compared with 11% among Republicans and 29% among independents.
According to Gallup, Republicans’ low confidence in the media has little room to worsen, but Democrat confidence could still deteriorate and bring the overall national reading down further.
The poll also shows that young Democrats have less confidence in the media than older Democrats, while Republicans are less varied in their views by age group.
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