The 24-hour sports network model has been incredibly successful, and it's changed the way people watch sports and even when they watch. When sports reporting was relegated to local news broadcasts, it was nearly impossible for a New York Giants fan to keep up with the team if he was living in California. Now, fans can watch live games no matter where their favorite teams are playing.
Since these networks are broadcasting 24/7, they also show matches that never would have gotten airtime in the past. Soccer's popularity in the United States is a great example of how 24-hour sports networks have changed our preferences. Since so many soccer matches take place overseas, showing them live in the U.S. means broadcasting in the middle of the night. This used to be mainly a pay-per-view situation, but some 24-hour sports networks now offer soccer scores and even live streaming soccer online. The 2010 World Cup saw more than 3 million viewers per game in the U.S., and FOX even has a dedicated soccer channel available to around 40 percent of American viewers [source: MacAree].
Soccer isn't the only niche sport that has its own 24-hour channel now. Racing fans can watch the Speed Channel or Fuel TV, and for those with other interests, there's the dedicated Tennis Channel and even a World Fishing Network. When these niche networks aren't showing major events, they replay famous moments in the sport's history or air tutorials and tips from athletes.
These networks have even changed the face of sports bars. Of course, sports bars existed before 24-hour sports channels, but 24/7 sports has changed the neighborhood bar and given rise to national chains like ESPN Zone and FOX Sports Grill. Satellite and cable companies offer 24-hour sports packages for local sports bars, so fans can keep up with their teams at the local watering hole no matter what sports they follow or in which city their team is playing. Some bars will even adjust their hours to show overseas games.
Starting with ESPN and branching out to the dozens of sports networks on air today, 24-hour sports channels have changed the sports business and had an impact on how, when and where fans watch sports.
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