Mobile Minute

Mobile Minute: From Stadiums to Streaming — MLB’s Mobile Streaming Grew 19x As Professional Baseball Season Returns

Lexi Sydow

Fans accelerate usage of sports streaming apps as live sports return to television

What’s Happening: 

For an industry built on live events and fan experiences, COVID-19 has quite literally “changed the game” for sports. While MLB and NBA seasons have returned and the NFL prepares for kick-off in September, stadium seats remain empty and fans are increasingly relying on streaming services and mobile apps to maintain engagement. However, fans remain committed showing that as matches begin to stream again, users in the UK and US are turning to mobile to stream games, with MLB seeing 19x increase in time spent on Android phones during the week commencing July 19, 2020 — the first week we saw strong uptake from the return to the MLB season — compared to the average of 4 weeks prior in the US and Chelsea FC - The 5th Stand seeing 2.6x increase in time spend on Android phones during the week commencing June 28, 2020 compared to the weekly average of 4 weeks prior in the UK. Time spent in MLB reached new heights during the week of July 26, 2020 — Aug 1, 2020, growing 50% from the week prior. 

Why It Matters: 

As sports agencies continue to adhere to social distancing standards and develop virtual engagements, mobile apps are helping to put viewing and engagement at fans’ fingertips.

mobile sports streaming covid19

ESPN and MLB ranked highest, respectively, among selected sports apps in the US with the highest time spent during their peak week in June and July 2020. In the UK, BBC Sport and Sky Sports claimed the top 2 spots among selected apps. Beyond viewing, sports publishers have also put emphasis on recreating stadium experiences in-app. For example, both the MLB and NBA apps have announced updates that provide fans opportunities for virtual cheering and interactive predictions to keep them involved in game day activities in real-time. 

As app performance shows that fans have remained committed, streaming providers are eager for rights to draw loyal viewers to their platforms. For example, Twitch recently launched a unique sports category that will host content from agencies including the NBA, NHL, UFC and global soccer clubs such as Arsenal and Real Madrid. 

Go Deeper:

As sports streaming apps experience an uptick in active users and time spent, it’s crucial that they provide unique engagements to increase time spent within platforms and to remain a key part of the game day experience — even once stadiums re-open to fans. Furthermore, as sports organizations manage potential profit loss from stadium ticketing and vendors, apps can provide a valuable channel for future sponsorships.

For more information on the impact of the virus on the mobile economy, please see our blog post here: The Impact of Coronavirus on the Mobile Economy.

To hear more from our panel of mobile experts — including a special guest from Snap, Inc. — on the impact of coronavirus on the mobile economy, watch our webinar

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This post is the latest in a Mobile Minute series that features App Annie’s perspective on how mobile is impacting current events and consumer trends. Check in weekly for our take on the latest news cycles and how mobile transformation is shaping industries around the world.


App Annie is a mobile market estimate service provider. App Annie is not registered in any investment advisory capacity in any jurisdiction globally, and does not offer any legal, financial, investment or business advice. Nothing contained in this communication, or in any App Annie products, services or other offerings, should be construed as an offer, recommendation, or solicitation to buy or sell any security or investment, or to make any investment decisions. Any reference to past or potential performance is not, and should not, be construed as a recommendation or as a guarantee of any specific outcome. You should always consult your own professional legal, financial, investment and business advisors.


August 12, 2020

Mobile Minute

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