For those who have chosen to forgo high cable bills and poor customer service by “cutting the cord”, sports have been the last bastion of a quickly-fading traditional TV model. There have been many advancements in recent years, though. The NHL, for example allows you to purchase an entire season’s worth of streaming for $130. The NFL, for its part has NFL Game Pass but that system only gives you access to replays of games online and streaming. And while there are some rays of hope such as CBS allowing free streaming of the games they air, the NFL does not have a “total package”, over-the-top model that would allow users to watch any game, any time on any device for a reasonable price without cable.
And where access to premium content is limited, torrenting and online piracy flourishes.
Methodology & Data
We wanted to know which teams and fan bases conduct the most illegal streaming so we compiled two sets of data for a better look at the situation.
Data Set One: Overall Torrenting by State (Movoto)
Data Set Two: NFL Fanbases by County (Twitter Sports)
Results & Findings
By combining these two sets of data we were able to draw several conclusions about the streaming habits of various NFL fanbases. But are these results affected by geography? Personality? Culture? Access to high speed internet? Technological fluency? Let’s take a look draw a few conclusions.
Top Pirating Fanbases
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Fanbases Least Likely to Pirate Content
New Orleans Saints
Green Bay Packers
Access to Technology
The US Census Bureau put together some data on high speed internet usage and access to computers. Here’s their map:
Seattle is known as a big tech town as home to the likes of Microsoft and Amazon so that could explain a correlation for Seahawks fans and illegal online streaming of NFL games. But the trend doesn’t pull through to Florida where piracy is almost as rampant. Access to high technology is probably part of the answer but not the full conclusion.
On the flip side the Saints, Titans, and Cardinals all reside in states where folks have statistically less access to technology. This could help explain their low piracy numbers.
We also wondered whether access to money had a role to play in all this. If you don’t have the cash to pay for that fancy cable subscription are you more likely to pirate that NFL game? Here’s another map from the US Census Bureau:
Seahawks and Florida fans are at opposite ends of the spectrum here yet they both pirate a lot of football games. There doesn’t seem to be a great correlation here but we wanted to make sure we looked into it.
National Fandom & “In Market” Broadcasting
Perhaps combining these numbers to maps doesn’t paint the full picture. Steelers and Packers fans exist all over the country. The Cowboys are known as “America’s Team”. Perhaps more of them are forced to pirate their games whilst living in other states, even though the piracy numbers appear low for the team on a map. Seattle and Florida teams have both been sub-par for so long that perhaps Seattlites aren’t actually pirating their own games, they’re pirating another, non-local team’s games. We all know the barriers around in-market and out-of-market games where you’ll get all of the in-market for free on network TV and other games are harder to get without paying for a pricey cable subscription.
High Number of Transplants
Seattle is experiencing an influx of new residents to support their ongoing tech boom. Florida also is home to a lot of transplants who come from around the country to enjoy the warmer weather in their later years. This could explain why both of these places have more pirates than usual.
So why do certain NFL fanbases pirate more often than others? The answer probably lies in a combination of all of the above, with a dash of some confounding factors that we haven’t touched on in this study. Leave us a comment below with your own thoughts and experiences pirating NFL games (don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone).