Live sports will play a defining role in determining the pace and extent of the ongoing shift from legacy to broadband TV, according to a new report from TDG, Game On! The Future of Sports Video Viewing, 2015-2025.

“Americans love sports and, most would agree, sports is the backbone of the TV industry in general and legacy pay-TV in particular,” said Joel Espelien, TDG senior advisor and author of the new report. “Whether measured in ratings or revenue, TV coverage of live amateur and professional sporting events is big business.”

With so much enthusiasm for sports, and our broadening conception of ‘TV viewing,’ why then is sports viewing via broadband dramatically under-represented relative to sports viewing on legacy TV?

Espelien points to two factors: existing long-term sports broadcasting agreements, and fears of disrupting the massive flow of money market players associated with the status quo. This gap will gradually close over the next decade, Espelien predicts, with massive growth in weekly per-capita broadband sports video viewing growing tenfold, from less than half an hour in 2014 to four hours in 2025.

The growing relevance of broadband distribution will present significant strategic challenges and opportunities to TV industry stakeholders, including sports leagues, networks, MVPDs (legacy and virtual). “The big money that defines sports programming will follow consumers, viewers who engage broadband sports on all screens, not just the living room TV.”