It’s that time of the year again. The mornings will hopefully soon be filled with crisp, cool air and football stadiums brimming with school color pride. Students, alumni and families all over the U.S. will be in the in the throes of high school and college football season, but with the rising costs of tuition and dorm living compounded by a struggling worldwide economy, it is becoming more difficult for students and fans to enjoy watching their favorite sports events without breaking the bank.
Attending live sports events can often be costly. While college football tickets can be affordable for matriculated students attending home games, regular college event tickets can run fans up to $60 per game. Additionally, each visit to the stadium can include up to $20 per person spent on drinks and food, if not more.
Recognizing these limitations, technology companies are finding alternative ways to provide consumers with more options at home through the Internet — from movies to TV shows, and now even sports.
One of the most widely recognized of these is Hulu, which has seen tremendous success as an online video service offering hit shows, clips and movies. According to comScore, an Internet marketing research firm, the online video service reached 43 million monthly users at the end of 2009, doubling the number from the year before. Earlier this year, Hulu launched a subscription service, Hulu Plus, on several TV-connected devices for $9.95 a month.
For sports fans, Microsoft Corp. recently introduced a new way to watch popular sports, like college football and bowl games, college basketball, MLB and NBA, and more, through a customized ESPN app on Xbox 360, the company’s video game and entertainment system. The new application allows users to access over 3,500 live and on-demand sport events from ESPN3.com, including out-of-market games, with an Xbox LIVE Gold membership, which costs $59.99 per year — or $5 per month — to users who receive their Internet connection from an affiliated service provider. The system also offers streaming through Netflix.
The blending of television and the Internet has been a developing trend over the past few years. More Americans have become used to relying on the Internet for TV viewing, and broadband adoption has continued to rise. A recent study by Integrated Media Measurement Inc. found that 20 percent of 3,000 primetime TV viewers surveyed watched some primetime programming online.
Beyond watching videos on the web, Internet-powered television services may be the future for people who prefer to watch movies, and especially live sports, on a large TV with surround sound in the living room. Students and fans operating on a budget may want to consider staying in for the next big sports event.