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Marketing to Sports Fans - US - July 2016

"Professional football leads the pack as the most popular American sport, followed by baseball and basketball. Avid Fans often follow all three (or more) traditional sports and keep up with their favorite teams by watching sports news, reading articles online, and even scanning the local paper. Whichever channel fans choose to keep up with the sports world, news stories about the safety of players, doping scandals, and bad behavior of athletes may negatively affect their perceptions of professional leagues."
- Dana Macke, Senior Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst

This report discusses the following key topics:

  • More than two thirds of Avid Fans follow multiple sports
  • Future fandom driven by early participation
  • Football dominates sports culture, but there is a decline in youth participation

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel categorizes respondents based on their level of engagement with sports:

  • Sports Fan: Someone who follows sports (net of Avid Fans, Casual Fans, and Occasional Fans).
  • Avid Fan: Someone who almost never misses his/her team’s game/event, for at least one of the sports evaluated.
  • Casual Fan: Someone who watches at least half of his/her team’s games/events, for at least one of the sports evaluated.
  • Occasional Fan: Someone who occasionally watches games/events for at least one of the sports evaluated.
  • Non-fan: Someone who does not follow any of the sports evaluated.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

          • The issues
            • More than two thirds of Avid Fans follow multiple sports
              • Figure 1: Number of sports followed by Avid Fans, May 2016
            • Future fandom driven by early participation
              • Figure 2: Motivations to follow sports – History, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, May 2016
            • Football dominates sports culture, but there is a decline in youth participation
              • Figure 3: Kids’ participation in popular sports, January 2009-December 2015
            • The opportunities
              • Women could be an incremental audience for fantasy sports
                • Figure 4: Sports engagement, by gender, May 2016
              • Professional leagues can improve perceptions among fans and non-fans
                • Figure 5: Perceptions of sports leagues, select attributes, May 2016
              • New media channels have low penetration even among Avid Fans
                • Figure 6: Keeping up with sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, May 2016
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • US sports bring in more than $27 billion in annual revenues
                  • Avid Fans are typically young, White, males
                    • Sporting goods market is strong, but some chains fail to compete
                      • Fantasy sports grow in unlikely areas
                        • Youth sports participation declines, but kids are still fans
                          • A strong economy boosts leisure spending
                          • Market Size – Major Sports Leagues

                            • Major sports leagues in the US reap more than $27 billion annually
                              • Figure 7: Revenues of major US sports leagues ($ billions), 2013-14 season
                          • Key Demographics of Avid Sports Fans

                            • Avid football fans reflect the demographics of average Americans
                              • Figure 8: Profile of avid NFL fans, indexed to all Avid Fans, by key demographics, May 2016
                            • Baseball wins with families
                              • Figure 9: Profile of avid MLB fans, indexed to all Avid Fans, by key demographics, May 2016
                            • Young fans gravitate toward basketball
                              • Figure 10: Profile of avid NBA fans, indexed to all Avid Fans, by key demographics, May 2016
                            • American soccer fans are young and affluent
                              • Figure 11: Profile of avid soccer fans, indexed to all Avid Fans, by key demographics, May 2016
                          • Market Perspective

                            • Sports Authority loses footing amid $44 billion sporting goods market
                              • Figure 12: Estimated annual sporting goods stores retail sales, 2005-13
                            • Fantasy sports leagues expand into new areas
                              • The NFL soars in popularity, but kids less likely to be devoted players
                                • Figure 13: Kids’ participation in popular sports, January 2009-December 2015
                              • Slight decline in licensed gear among kids, but NFL apparel continues to be popular
                                • Figure 14: Kids’ ownership of licensed college/professional sports apparel, January 2009-December 2015
                                • Figure 15: Kids’ ownership of licensed college/professional sports apparel, by sport, January 2009-December 2015
                            • Market Factors

                              • Economic stability can boost recreational spending
                                • Figure 16: Perceptions of financial health, 2013-16
                              • Experiential spending provides personal satisfaction
                                • Figure 17: Perceived change in spending – Spending more, by category, 2016 versus 2013
                            • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                              • Sport marketers go beyond TV
                                • Stadium amenities aim to please
                                  • Golf participation and viewership flags
                                    • Brazil faces Olympic-sized challenges
                                      • Female fans may be hard to gain in light of bad PR
                                        • Daily fantasy sports face legal battles
                                          • NFL admits link to CTE, only after settlement is reached
                                            • Alternative sports may convert non-fans
                                            • What’s Working?

                                              • Marketers create breakthrough ads to engage fans
                                                • Stadium amenities turn up the dial on the fan experience
                                                  • Social platforms create dedicated spaces for Sports Fans
                                                  • What’s Not Working?

                                                    • Golf participation is down, and TV ratings have followed
                                                      • Figure 18: Adults who participate in golf, February 2009-March 2016
                                                      • Figure 19: Masters final round TV audience (millions of viewers), 2007-16
                                                    • Drug scandals, Zika concerns, and safety issues threaten the success of 2016 Summer Olympics
                                                      • Will watching sports impact the health of fans?
                                                        • Misogynistic sports stories float to the surface in 2016
                                                          • Fantasy leagues face restrictive legislation
                                                            • High-priced sports packages may lead more to cut the cord
                                                              • CTE threatens the future of football
                                                              • What’s Next?

                                                                • Fans turn to alternative sports for something new and different
                                                                  • “Moneyball” strategy influences more than just MLB
                                                                    • Stadiums get smarter
                                                                      • Some Rio events to be broadcast in virtual reality
                                                                      • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                        • Avid Fans watch all the sports
                                                                          • Football continues to dominate
                                                                            • Let’s go. While we’re young.
                                                                              • Fans watch sports news to keep current
                                                                                • Avid Fans demonstrate more “fanatical” behaviors
                                                                                  • Pro leagues may want to polish their images
                                                                                    • Athletes can step-up as role models
                                                                                    • Sports Followed

                                                                                        • An avid fan of one sport, is an avid fan of many sports
                                                                                          • Figure 20: Number of sports followed by Avid Fans, May 2016
                                                                                        • Professional football reigns
                                                                                          • Figure 21: Sports followed, May 2016
                                                                                        • As expected, men over index as sports lovers
                                                                                            • Figure 22: Sports followed, by gender, May 2016
                                                                                          • College sports are for more than just students
                                                                                            • Figure 23: Sports followed, by age, May 2016
                                                                                          • Hispanics are interested in fútbol, but also football
                                                                                            • Figure 24: Sports followed, by Hispanic origin, May 2016
                                                                                          • Olympic sports and combat sports draw crowds
                                                                                            • Figure 25: Other sports followed, by frequency of write-in entry, May 2016
                                                                                        • What Drives Fandom?

                                                                                            • A history of sports engagement drives future followers
                                                                                                • Figure 26: Motivations to follow sports – History and entertainment May 2016
                                                                                              • Non-fans are not entertained
                                                                                                  • Figure 27: Barriers to following sports, May 2016
                                                                                                • Some fans driven by pride, or connecting with their past
                                                                                                  • Figure 28: Motivations to follow sports – Connection and pride, May 2016
                                                                                                • Women more attracted to the entertainment aspect of sports
                                                                                                  • Figure 29: Motivations to follow sports, by gender, May 2016
                                                                                                • White Sports Fans feel closely connected with teams
                                                                                                  • Figure 30: Motivations to follow sports, by race, May 2016
                                                                                                • Connecting with friends motivates young Sports Fans
                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Motivations to follow sports – Connecting with friends, by age, May 2016
                                                                                                • Fans of all ages enjoy the strategy behind the game
                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Motivations to follow sports – Strategy, by age, May 2016
                                                                                              • How Fans Keep Up with Sports, Teams, and Players

                                                                                                  • Traditional media keeps Sports Fans in the know
                                                                                                      • Figure 33: Keeping up with sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, May 2016
                                                                                                    • Older fans read the newspaper, but not magazines
                                                                                                      • Figure 34: Keeping up with sports – Paper sources, by age, May 2016
                                                                                                    • Women less likely to actively keep up with sports news
                                                                                                      • Figure 35: Keeping up with sports, by gender, May 2016
                                                                                                    • Hispanic Sports Fans use digital means to follow their teams
                                                                                                      • Figure 36: Keeping up with sports – Digital sources, by Hispanic origin, May 2016
                                                                                                    • Sports fans of all races use sports news as a main resource
                                                                                                      • Figure 37: Keeping up with sports – Popular sources, by race, May 2016
                                                                                                  • Engagement with Sports

                                                                                                      • Most fans keep it casual
                                                                                                        • Figure 38: Sports engagement, May 2016
                                                                                                      • Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who are the biggest Sports Fans of all?
                                                                                                        • Figure 39: Perception of being an above-average sports fan, by sports followed by Avid Fans, May 2016
                                                                                                      • A quarter of fans are interested in sports stats
                                                                                                        • Figure 40: Sports engagement – Statistics and gambling, May 2016
                                                                                                      • Women less likely to be “super fans”
                                                                                                        • Figure 41: Sports engagement – Statistics and gambling, by gender, May 2016
                                                                                                      • Young fans devote their time to sports-related activities
                                                                                                        • Figure 42: Sports engagement – Fanatic behaviors, by age, May 2016
                                                                                                      • Northeasterners believe they are the biggest fans
                                                                                                        • Figure 43: Perception of being an above-average sports fan, by region, May 2016
                                                                                                      • Black Sports Fans less likely to believe they are “bigger fans than most”
                                                                                                        • Figure 44: Sports engagement – Fan behaviors, by race, May 2016
                                                                                                    • Perceptions of Leagues

                                                                                                        • Perceived strengths and weaknesses of professional leagues
                                                                                                          • Methodology
                                                                                                            • Figure 45: Correspondence Analysis – Perceptions of professional sports leagues, May 2016
                                                                                                          • College sports decidedly affordable and appealing to young fans
                                                                                                            • Figure 46: Correspondence Analysis – Perceptions of professional versus college sports, May 2016
                                                                                                            • Figure 47: Perceptions of sports leagues, May 2016
                                                                                                        • Attitudes of Sports Fans

                                                                                                            • Sports fans split on league issues
                                                                                                                • Figure 48: Attitudes toward sports issues, May 2016
                                                                                                              • All ages urge professional teams to take a stand
                                                                                                                • Figure 49: Attitudes of Sports Fans - Controversial issues, by age, May 2016
                                                                                                              • Sports Fans perceive leagues in a more positive light than Non-fans
                                                                                                                • Figure 50: Attitudes toward sports league player treatment, by Sports Fans and Non-fans, May 2016
                                                                                                              • Hispanic fans see the virtue in professional athletes
                                                                                                                • Figure 51: Attitudes of Sports Fans, by Hispanic origin, May 2016
                                                                                                              • Fans aged 25-44 are key purchasers for team-related gear
                                                                                                                • Figure 52: Attitudes of Sports Fans toward ownership of team apparel, by key demographics, May 2016
                                                                                                            • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                              • Data sources
                                                                                                                • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                  • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                                                    • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Market

                                                                                                                          • Figure 53: Revenues of major sporting leagues, 2013-14 season
                                                                                                                          • Figure 54: Kids’ participation in popular sports, January 2009-December 2015
                                                                                                                          • Figure 55: Kids’ ownership of licensed college/professional sports apparel, by sport, January 2009-December 2015
                                                                                                                          • Figure 56: Kids’ ownership of licensed college/ professional sports apparel, January 2009-December 2015

                                                                                                                      Companies Covered

                                                                                                                      To learn more about the companies covered in this report please contact us.

                                                                                                                      Marketing to Sports Fans - US - July 2016

                                                                                                                      £3,199.84 (Excl.Tax)