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Marketing to Sports Fans - US - September 2017

"85% of US adults follow at least one sport. The most passionate sports fans, Avid Fans, almost never miss a game/event for the sport/team they follow and account for more than half of sport fans (43%) or 109 million adults. America’s sport of choice is football, which attracts the most fans and generates the greatest annual revenue. Despite improvements to give fans wider access to games/events through streaming services or apps, fans still prefer to watch at home, on TV, and in real-time. While watching, fans are often “distracted,” as many engage in other activities at the same time, namely their smartphones. However, viewing preferences, behaviors, and attitudes differ by the specific sport(s) that fans follow."

- Gina Cavato, Lifestyles & Leisure Analyst

This report will look at the following areas:

  • Game length may lead to multi-tasking viewers
  • Cost of attending sporting events can be prohibitive for families
  • Sports compete with a variety of activities for consumers’ leisure time

Due to a feeling of limited free time and a wide range of leisure options, sports compete with numerous activities to win over consumers’ attention and time. However, even when consumers choose to spend their time watching sports, they are likely also doing something else at the same time, such as socializing, scrolling through online sites using their smartphones, or even cooking. Multi-tasking may negatively impact the actual reach of a marketing message, as viewers may be too engrossed in other activities to receive brand messaging.

Despite efforts to ensure fans have easy access to watch their teams’ games/events, the vast majority of fans still prefer to watch games/events on TV, specifically in real-time. While delayed viewing benefits fans by giving them the chance to watch games on their own time (and the ability to skip ads), fans’ preference for live viewing gives marketers the opportunity to reach viewers during the game. However, as fans already express frustrations with game length and show interest in skipping commercials, marketers need to get creative with their game-time promotions, such as through split-screen or in-screen advertisements, to avoid impacting the pace of play.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

          • Figure 1: Sports Fans, by type, July 2017
        • The issues
          • Game length may lead to multi-tasking viewers
            • Figure 2: Attitudes about passion for sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, July 2017
          • Cost of attending sporting events can be prohibitive for families
            • Figure 3: Avid Fans’ attitudes about issues for sports, by sport followed, July 2017
          • Sports compete with a variety of activities for consumers’ leisure time
            • The opportunities
              • Real-time viewing still dominates
                • Figure 4: Devices used by Avid Fans to watch sports – TV, by sport followed, July 2017
              • Access to fans during games transcends the TV
                • Figure 5: Sports Fans’ concurrent sports viewing activities – digital and mobile items, July 2017
              • Fans’ engagement with sports extends beyond just watching games
                • Figure 6: Fantasy sports and eSports engagement, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, by age, July 2017
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • America’s top sports leagues brought in $35 billion in annual revenues
                  • The most dedicated of fans, Avid Fans, skew young and male
                    • Different sports have different types of fans
                      • Sports compete with consumers’ attention and interest
                        • Tech advances benefit fans but hurt cable/satellite providers
                        • Market Size

                          • Major US sports leagues generate more than $35 billion annually
                            • Figure 7: Revenues of major US sports leagues ($ billions), 2016-17 season
                            • Figure 8: Key stats of major professional sports, 2016
                        • Who Are Sports Fans?

                            • 85% of adults aged 18+ are Sports Fans, 43% are Avid Fans
                              • Figure 9: Sports Fans, by type, July 2017
                            • Avid Fans tend to be young, partnered/married, men…
                              • Figure 10: Sports Fans vs Avid Fans, by gender, age, and marital status, July 2017
                            • …who are parents (most likely dads), middle-income earners, and…
                              • Figure 11: Sports Fans vs Avid Fans, by parent status and gender, and household income, July 2017
                            • …Hispanic, employed, and urban dwellers
                              • Figure 12: Sports Fans vs Avid Fans, by race/Hispanic origin, area, and employment status, July 2017
                          • Key Demographics of Avid Fans by Sport

                              • Football goes…all…the…way…for older adults
                                • Figure 13: Avid Fans of professional football, by key demographics, July 2017
                              • Basketball is a slam dunk for multicultural and young adults
                                • Figure 14: Avid Fans of professional basketball, by key demographics, July 2017
                              • Baseball is a grand slam for parents and Hispanics
                                • Figure 15: Avid Fans of professional baseball, by key demographics, July 2017
                              • Younger, more affluent Avid Fans are hooked on hockey
                                • Figure 16: Avid Fans of professional hockey, by key demographics, July 2017
                              • Young, Hispanic crowd gets a kick out of soccer
                                • Figure 17: Avid Fans of professional soccer, by key demographics, July 2017
                            • Market Perspective

                              • Endless entertainment options could impact passion for sports
                                • Sports Fans embrace the second screen
                                  • Figure 18: Sports Fans’ concurrent sports viewing activities – digital and mobile items, July 2017
                                • Sports may motivate fans to travel to other cities
                                  • Experience-based rewards elicit greater interest among young travelers
                                    • Figure 19: Interest in reward redemption options – Select items, by age, March 2017
                                • Market Factors

                                  • Spending habits point to growth in leisure market
                                    • Figure 20: Perceived change in leisure and entertainment spending – Spending more or the same, 2014-17
                                  • Cable and satellite dish subscriptions are down…
                                    • Figure 21: Household cable and satellite dish subscriptions, 2010-17
                                  • …while smartphones are increasingly used for sports content
                                    • Figure 22: Attitudes about cell phones/smartphones – To keep up with news or sports, 2010-17
                                • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                  • Fans have wider access to watch sports and connect with athletes
                                    • Politics, cost, and health are on fans’ minds
                                      • Ads on jerseys, split-screen play, and Vegas are changing the game
                                      • What’s Working?

                                        • Non-traditional platforms joining the sports viewing space
                                          • Connecting with athletes (and fans) is seamless through social media
                                            • Fantasy sports continue to boom
                                            • What’s Struggling?

                                              • For families, going to games means dishing out some serious cash
                                                • Political stances and criminal issues are having NFL fans tune out
                                                  • CTE studies impact support and concern for athletes’ health
                                                  • What’s Next?

                                                    • Fast-paced lifestyles impact changes to the game
                                                      • The next pro sports hub: Vegas, baby
                                                        • Non-stop watching, thanks to in-screen advertisements
                                                          • NBA opens opportunity for brand sponsorships on jerseys
                                                            • Disney’s ESPN to have its own sports streaming service
                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                              • America loves football (no…not soccer)
                                                                • TV beats out streaming and real-time trumps recorded sports viewing
                                                                  • Viewing on social media/apps most popular for pro soccer, tennis fans
                                                                    • Fans prefer to watch their teams’ games/events at home
                                                                      • “Distracted” viewing allows for greater opportunity to reach fans
                                                                        • Team sports fans more likely to indulge in unhealthy food while watching
                                                                          • Home or away, hockey fans are willing to pay to watch their team
                                                                            • Football fans love to talk about their team and to watch with others
                                                                              • Connecting with friends is an important component of fantasy sports
                                                                                • Attending sports games/events on trip is a fun activity
                                                                                  • Game length is an issue for three in 10 Avid Fans
                                                                                    • Attending games is pricey and fans are more interested during playoffs
                                                                                    • Sports Followed

                                                                                        • Football is America’s most followed sport
                                                                                          • Figure 23: Team sports followed, by engagement, July 2017
                                                                                        • Individual sports garner less interest than team sports
                                                                                          • Figure 24: Individual sports followed, by engagement, July 2017
                                                                                        • College sports elicit similar interest to professional team sports
                                                                                          • Figure 25: College Sports followed, by engagement, July 2017
                                                                                      • Devices Used to Watch Sports

                                                                                          • Sports Fans still watch their sports in real-time
                                                                                            • Figure 26: Devices used to watch sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, July 2017
                                                                                          • Football fans most likely to watch games live, soccer fans record and stream
                                                                                            • Figure 27: Devices used by Avid Fans to watch sports, by team sports, July 2017
                                                                                          • Avid Fans of individual sport least likely to view in real-time
                                                                                            • Figure 28: Devices used by Avid Fans to watch sports, by individual sports, July 2017
                                                                                        • Platforms Used to Watch Sports

                                                                                            • Nearly one in five Avid Fans use real-time updates for their team
                                                                                              • Figure 29: Platforms used to watch sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, July 2017
                                                                                            • Soccer fans most likely to turn to digital to watch games
                                                                                              • Figure 30: Platforms used by Avid Fans to watch sports, by team sports, July 2017
                                                                                            • One in three tennis fans watch competitions on social media
                                                                                              • Figure 31: Platforms used by Avid Fans to watch sports, by individual sports, July 2017
                                                                                          • Places Where Sports Are Watched

                                                                                              • At-home viewing is most common
                                                                                                • Figure 32: Places Avid Fans watch sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, July 2017
                                                                                              • Sports bar viewing is most common among basketball and soccer fans
                                                                                                • Figure 33: Places Avid Fans watch sports, by team sports, July 2017
                                                                                              • Viewing games in-person is most common among college sports fans
                                                                                                • Figure 34: Places Avid Fans watch sports, by college sports, July 2017
                                                                                            • Concurrent Sports Viewing Activities

                                                                                                • Majority of Sports Fans do something else while watching sports
                                                                                                  • Figure 35: Concurrent sports viewing activities, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, July 2017
                                                                                                • Soccer fans skip commercials, stream music, listen to radio while watching
                                                                                                  • Figure 36: Concurrent sports viewing activities of Avid Fans, by team sports, July 2017
                                                                                                • Avid Fans of pro golf are least likely to socialize while watching
                                                                                                  • Figure 37: Concurrent sports viewing activities of Avid Fans, by individual sports, July 2017
                                                                                              • Food-related Behaviors

                                                                                                  • Unhealthy foods are a part of the game for three in 10 Avid Fans
                                                                                                    • Figure 38: Food-related behaviors, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans July 2017
                                                                                                  • Football fans indulge most in unhealthy food while watching sports
                                                                                                    • Figure 39: Food-related behaviors of Avid Fans, by team sports, July 2017
                                                                                                  • Fans of individual sports most likely to recognize athletic spokespeople
                                                                                                    • Figure 40: Food-related behaviors of Avid Fans, by individual sports, July 2017
                                                                                                • Viewing-related Behaviors

                                                                                                    • Avid Fans travel and pay extra to watch sports
                                                                                                      • Figure 41: Viewing-related behaviors, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans July 2017
                                                                                                    • Hockey fans most likely to have cable primarily to watch sports
                                                                                                      • Figure 42: Viewing-related behaviors of Avid Fans, by team sports, July 2017
                                                                                                    • Golf and tennis fans more likely to have cable, record events
                                                                                                      • Figure 43: Viewing-related behaviors of Avid Fans, by individual sports, July 2017
                                                                                                    • Avid Fans of college sports watch at home and go on-the-road
                                                                                                      • Figure 44: Viewing-related behaviors of Avid Fans, by college sports, July 2017
                                                                                                  • Social-related Behaviors

                                                                                                      • Not all Sports Fans are “big sports fans”
                                                                                                          • Figure 45: Social behaviors, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans July 2017
                                                                                                        • Social component of sports is most important for football fans
                                                                                                          • Figure 46: Social behaviors of Avid Fans, by team sports, July 2017
                                                                                                        • Individual sports fans don’t need to bond with others to stay passionate
                                                                                                          • Figure 47: Social behaviors of Avid Fans, by individual sports, July 2017
                                                                                                      • Traditional Sports Alternatives: Fantasy and eSports

                                                                                                          • Participation in fantasy sports/eSports is low…but growing
                                                                                                            • Figure 48: Fantasy sports and eSports engagement, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, July 2017
                                                                                                          • Young adults drive fantasy sports participation
                                                                                                            • Figure 49: Fantasy sports and eSports engagement, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, by age, July 2017
                                                                                                          • Fantasy sports helps users stay connected – with others and their sports
                                                                                                            • Figure 50: Attitudes toward fantasy sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, July 2017
                                                                                                          • Adults aged 25-44 enjoy the connecting element of fantasy sports
                                                                                                            • Figure 51: Attitudes toward fantasy sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, by age, July 2017
                                                                                                        • Attitudes: Sports and Travel

                                                                                                            • Most Avid Fans consider sporting events to be a fun trip activity
                                                                                                              • Figure 52: Attitudes about travel for sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, July 2017
                                                                                                            • Football fans are least likely to travel to watch live sports
                                                                                                              • Figure 53: Avid Fan’s attitudes about travel, by team sports, July 2017
                                                                                                            • Tennis fans are willing to travel to other cities to watch live sports
                                                                                                              • Figure 54: Avid Fan’s attitudes about travel, by individual sports, July 2017
                                                                                                          • Attitudes: Passion for Sports

                                                                                                              • Sports Fans are just as likely as Avid Fans to think games last too long
                                                                                                                • Figure 55: Attitudes about passion for sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, July 2017
                                                                                                              • Soccer fans struggle most with season and game length
                                                                                                                • Figure 56: Avid Fans’ attitudes about passion for sports, by team sports, July 2017
                                                                                                            • Attitudes: Issues for Sports Fans

                                                                                                                • Majority of fans think attending sporting events is too expensive
                                                                                                                    • Figure 57: Attitudes about issues for sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, July 2017
                                                                                                                  • Tech advances impact soccer fans more than other major team sports
                                                                                                                    • Figure 58: Avid Fans’ attitudes about issues for sports, by team sports, July 2017
                                                                                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

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

                                                                                                                                • Figure 59: Revenues of major US sports leagues ($ billions), 2016-17 season
                                                                                                                                • Figure 60: Household cable and satellite dish subscriptions, 2011-17
                                                                                                                                • Figure 61: Attitudes about cell phones/smartphones – to keep up with news or sports, 2010-17
                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Consumer

                                                                                                                                • Figure 62: Team sports followed, by Sports Fans, July 2017
                                                                                                                                • Figure 63: Individual sports followed, by Sports Fans, July 2017
                                                                                                                                • Figure 64: College sports followed, by Sports Fans, July 2017
                                                                                                                                • Figure 65: Team sports followed, by Avid Fans, July 2017
                                                                                                                                • Figure 66: Individual sports followed, by Avid Fans, July 2017
                                                                                                                                • Figure 67: College sports followed, by Avid Fans, July 2017

                                                                                                                            Companies Covered

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                                                                                                                            Marketing to Sports Fans - US - September 2017

                                                                                                                            US $3,995.00 (Excl.Tax)