Total revenue generated from mobile sports apps reached $166 million in the first half of 2019 as streaming services continued to grow in popularity around the world.
According to Sports App Status Report by analyst firm Sensor Tower, combined App Store and Google Play Store revenue hit a record $93 million in the second quarter, beating the all-time best of $73 million set a quarter earlier.
Analysts now believe the $100 million threshold could be breached for the first time in the third quarter.
Revenue from mobile sports apps
The number of downloads recorded over the past three months was 254 million, surpassing 200 million for the fifth consecutive quarter. However, this figure was down year-on-year, with 294 million downloads in the second quarter of 2018, mainly due to the World Cup in Russia.
Given Android’s much larger install base, it’s no surprise that Google’s mobile platform accounts for the lion’s share of downloads. Android was responsible for 186 million, with the App Store contributing 68 million.
However, iOS is a much more lucrative platform for app developers. Although Google Play’s revenue doubled to £24m in the second quarter, three-quarters was generated by Apple’s market, amounting to $69m.
The continued growth can largely be attributed to the rise of online streaming. DAZN, which only entered the rankings last year, was the top app by revenue in the first half. This ended the long reign of MLB At Bat, which offers live audio and video of baseball games via in-app purchases.
DAZN getting the top spot is significant because it reached the top spot despite only being available in a select number of countries.
Meanwhile, ESPN, which now offers subscriptions to its expanded ESPN+ streaming service in the US, moved up five spots. MLB At Bat drops to third place, with NBA in fourth and fifth place, GPS hunting app OnX Hunt proves it’s not just streaming that’s driving growth.
As sports broadcasters expand beyond traditional TV platforms and the organizations themselves go direct-to-consumer (D2C), the market will continue to grow. At the same time, the digitization of sport and the generalization of 4G and 5G networks will see the emergence of entirely new applications.
While the heady days of 2018, when the App Store saw a 70% increase in revenue, are unlikely to repeat themselves, net revenue could top $250 million this year. Longer term, analysts expect a 23% growth rate over the next five years, with revenue reaching $520 million by 2023.
On the Google Play side of the equation, the projected growth rate is largely the same at 22%, reaching $151 million. This means that the total market for sports apps will reach $635 million within five years.
Of course, these numbers only represent revenue generated directly from the app itself. They do not take into account subscriptions paid elsewhere, nor the impact of the legalization of sports betting by the US government last year.