UK Sport and the Media Market Report 2022
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“Sport remains one of the most important segments of the media market but needs to encourage younger fans to broaden their interest beyond football and boxing and find new ways…

UK Sport and the Media Market Report 2022

£ 2,195 (Excl.Tax)


The UK Sport and The Media report identifies consumer attitudes towards women’s sport, social media platforms, and the role of media in sport in the UK. This market report covers the market research, market forecast, market statistics and industry trends for the Sports Media market in the UK.

Current Market Landscape

Generation Z is now more likely to watch free sports coverage on social media than on mainstream television, while watching independent shows on YouTube is becoming almost as popular as watching TV highlights and discussion programmes such as Match of the Day among males within this 16-24 demographic.

  • Some 68% of all online adults followed sport in the media during the 12 months to February 2022.
  • 63% of all online adult fans follow their favourite individuals on social media, rising to 79% among males aged 16-34.
  • 62% of people who follow sport in the media do so via social media platforms, rising to 91% of those aged 16- 24.

Macro-economic factors led by the growing cost-of-living crisis could slow the market’s pivot towards subscription services as people are willing to cut back on these if they need to reduce non-essential spending.

Future Market Trends in Sport and The Media

The other major challenges sports media providers face are in encouraging younger fans to widen the range of sports they follow and the channels through which they do so, and persuading older ones to subscribe in greater numbers.

The most immediate opportunity for market growth is around the increasing popularity of women’s sport, while in the longer term new technologies could transform viewing experiences and open new membership models for funding content production.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our UK Leisure market research

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 and the cost-of-living crisis on sports media consumption.
  • The growing media profile of women’s sport.
  • The potential benefits of developments in new technologies.
  • The role of media in growing interest in new sports.
  • The implications of generational differences in sports media preferences and habits.
  • The value of sport to social media platforms.

Covered in this report

Brands: The Athletic, Antourage, BT, Discovery, Sony, HSBC, ESPN.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by David Walmsley, a leading analyst in the Leisure sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Sport remains one of the most important segments of the media market but needs to encourage younger fans to broaden their interest beyond football and boxing and find new ways of monetising the wider engagement of older followers.

David Walmsley - Research AnalystDavid Walmsley
Senior Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

      • Key issues covered in this Report
        • Market context
          • Products covered in this Report
          • Executive Summary

              • The market
                • Post-COVID-19 living costs threaten new revenue models
                  • Figure 1: Consumer confidence, 2020-22
                • Big opportunities on screens of all sizes
                  • Figure 2: Television vs smartphone use, 2022
                • Women’s sport attracts more attention
                  • Figure 3: Women’s sports watched, 2019
                • Sports media heads for tech revolution
                  • Figure 4: 5G take-up, 2021
                • Companies and brands
                  • Transfer for The Athletic and new partner for BT Sport
                    • Sports media moves into the metaverse
                      • Olympic debut for new broadcast technologies
                        • The consumer
                          • Women’s sport boom not yet including audiences
                            • Figure 5: Methods of following sport in the media, 2022
                          • Accessible athletes draw online crowds
                            • Figure 6: Sports media habits, 2022
                          • Football dominates sports media market
                            • Figure 7: Sports followed in the media, 2022
                          • Free viewing focus makes generational switch to social media
                            • Figure 8: Platforms used to watch sport, 2022
                          • Social platforms are central to sports media landscape
                            • Figure 9: Social media platforms used to follow sport, 2022
                          • Peer power can widen Gen Z’s sports media interest
                            • Figure 10: Incentives to following a new sport, 2022
                        • Issues and Insights

                          • Does sports media have a generation problem?
                            • Shared passions can pique younger interest
                              • Older fans need to go deeper
                                • NFTs can change the subscription game
                                  • First movers focus on exclusivity
                                    • Community focus creates opportunity for indies
                                    • Market Drivers

                                      • Cost-of-living crisis threatens post-COVID-19 revenue models
                                          • Figure 11: Consumer confidence, 2020-22
                                        • Big opportunities on large and small screens
                                            • Figure 12: Devices used for media activities, 2022
                                          • Don’t throw the Boomers out with the bathwater
                                              • Figure 13: UK population, by generation and interest in sport, 2020 and 2021
                                            • Another big year ahead for women’s sport
                                                • Figure 14: Women’s sports watched, 2019
                                              • Sports media looks to gaming playbook
                                                  • Figure 15: Participation in video gaming, 2021
                                                • New networks broaden sports media horizons
                                                    • Figure 16: 5G take-up, 2021
                                                • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                  • The Athletic completes big money transfer
                                                    • Club concept builds on blockchain
                                                      • BT Sport finds new partner
                                                        • Clubs and sponsors break ground in the metaverse
                                                          • Anniversary coverage turns back the clock
                                                            • Olympics showcase sports media innovations
                                                            • Sports Media Consumption

                                                              • Women’s sport boom not yet extending to audiences
                                                                  • Figure 17: Methods of following sport in the media, 2022
                                                                • Older fans follow more formats
                                                                    • Figure 18: Sports media repertoires, 2022
                                                                • Sports Media Habits

                                                                  • Athletes more popular than teams
                                                                      • Figure 19: Sports media habits, 2022
                                                                    • Older fans stay on the subs bench
                                                                        • Figure 20: Sports media subscribers (paid or free), 2022
                                                                    • Sports Followed

                                                                      • Other sports stuck in football’s shadow
                                                                          • Figure 21: Sports followed in the media, 2022
                                                                        • Youngest fans have narrowest horizons
                                                                            • Figure 22: Number of sports followed in the media, 2022
                                                                        • Sports Broadcasting

                                                                          • Can’t pay rather than won’t pay
                                                                              • Figure 23: Platforms used to watch sport, 2022
                                                                            • Sky Sports still way out in front
                                                                                • Figure 24: Pay-TV services used to watch sport, 2022
                                                                            • Sport on Social Media

                                                                              • No sports specialists in social media universe
                                                                                  • Figure 25: Social media platforms used to follow sport, 2022
                                                                                • Fans turned off by antisocial media
                                                                                    • Figure 26: Sharing and posting about sport on social media, 2022
                                                                                • Incentives to Following Sport

                                                                                  • Family ties can unlock new interests
                                                                                      • Figure 27: Incentives to following a new sport, 2022
                                                                                    • Sports documentaries need to be part of a bigger picture
                                                                                        • Figure 28: Interest in watching a behind-the-scenes documentary as a means of following a new sport, 2022
                                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                          • Consumer research methodology

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