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UK Spectator Sports market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Spectator Sports market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This report focuses on UK adults’ experience of watching live spectator sport, either at an event venue, on television or via the internet. Listening to live radio commentary and watching television highlights or live coverage on a time-shift basis are not included in the core definition of the report.

Except where indicated, market value estimations comprise consumer expenditure on sports event tickets only. Spending on sports television and internet service subscriptions is excluded, as is secondary expenditure at spectator sports venues (on food, beverages, merchandise etc).

What you need to know

Consumer interest in spectator sports remains strong and is likely to remain this way. Expenditure on tickets to live events is estimated to be £1.45 billion in 2018, and this is set to rise to nearly £1.8 billion by 2023. Venues are using technology to enhance the customer experience, so this will help to give fans more of an incentive to attend.

However, most Brits prefer to watch live sport in their own home so this gives retailers a great opportunity to run promotions and in-store events to cater to sports fans. Manufacturers can provide food and drink especially targeted for at-home entertainment. Whilst pubs are also a popular venue for live sports, venues can broaden their appeal by having a separate area for non-sports fans to keep everyone happy.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Helen Fricker, a leading analyst in the Leisure sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The cost of attending live sport events can be a barrier for some, even though the atmosphere is generally agreed to be far superior to watching sports in other ways. Venues are using technology to enhance the customer experience so this will help give fans more of an incentive to attend. Helen Fricker
Associate Director - Leisure

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Ticket sales reach £1.45 billion in 2018
              • Figure 1: Forecast of consumer expenditure on sports event tickets, 2013-23
            • Crowd numbers continue to grow
              • Key players
                • BT Sport launches pay-per-view and offers free coverage
                  • Apps being used to enhance fan experience
                    • The consumer
                      • Sports viewing up
                        • Figure 2: Viewing of live sport, July 2018
                      • Football the most popular sport to watch
                        • Figure 3: Type of sports viewed, July 2018
                      • At-home viewing most common and preferred method
                        • Figure 4: Venue or device use to watch live sport, July 2018
                      • Live sport a driver to pubs but separate area in demand
                        • Figure 5: Behaviours associated with watching live sport in pubs, July 2018
                        • Figure 6: Attitudes towards live sport in pubs, July 2018
                      • Big sporting events a driver for many
                        • Figure 7: Behaviours associated with watching live sport, July 2018
                      • VR appeals to young men
                        • Figure 8: Attitudes towards VR use relating to sports, July 2018
                      • More coverage of women’s sport needed
                        • Figure 9: Attitudes towards women’s and emerging sports coverage, July 2018
                      • What we think
                      • Issues and Insights

                        • How can sports venues protect themselves if fans begin to stay away?
                          • The facts
                            • The implications
                              • How can pubs maximise live sport coverage?
                                • The facts
                                  • The implications
                                  • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                    • Ticket sales reach £1.45 billion in 2018
                                      • Crowd numbers continue to grow
                                      • Market Size and Forecast

                                        • Ticket sales reach £1.45 billion in 2018
                                          • Figure 10: Consumer expenditure on sports event tickets, 2013-23
                                        • Market set to reach £1.8 billion by 2023
                                          • Figure 11: Forecast of consumer expenditure on sports event tickets, 2013-23
                                        • Forecast methodology
                                        • Market Segmentation

                                          • Crowd numbers continue to grow
                                            • Figure 12: UK spectator sports attendances, by leading segments, 2014-17
                                          • Football
                                            • Figure 13: English league football attendances, 2012/13-2017/18
                                            • Figure 14: English league football attendances, by division, 2012/13-2017/18
                                          • Horseracing
                                            • Figure 15: Horseracing attendances, 2013-18
                                          • Cricket
                                            • Figure 16: International and first-class cricket attendances, 2013-18
                                          • Rugby Union
                                            • Figure 17: Premiership rugby union attendances, 2012/13-2017/18
                                          • Rugby League
                                            • Figure 18: Super League attendances, 2013-18
                                          • Tennis
                                            • Figure 19: UK tennis tournament attendances, 2013-18
                                            • Figure 20: UK tennis attendances, by tournament, 2013-18
                                          • Golf
                                            • Figure 21: Major UK golf tournament attendances, 2013-18
                                        • Market Drivers

                                          • A great year of sports
                                            • Summer 2018 heatwave
                                              • Increase in pubs licenced to show live sport
                                                • BT Sport and Sky Sports price hike
                                                  • Growth in women’s sport
                                                  • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                                    • BT Sport launches pay-per-view and offers free coverage
                                                      • Apps being used to enhance fan experience
                                                      • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                        • BT Sport launches pay-per-view and offers free coverage
                                                          • Apps being used to enhance access to live sport…
                                                            • …and stadium experience
                                                              • Using contactless tech to enhance fan experience
                                                                • Sky and BT offering more support for on-trade
                                                                  • ECB aims to drive footfall with new format
                                                                    • Venue premiumisation
                                                                      • Tech companies making gains
                                                                        • Increased security
                                                                        • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                          • Sports viewing up
                                                                            • Football the most popular sport to watch
                                                                              • At home viewing most common and preferred method
                                                                                • Live sport a driver to pubs but separate area in demand
                                                                                  • Commentary plays a vital role
                                                                                    • Big sporting events a driver for many
                                                                                      • VR appeals to young men
                                                                                        • More coverage of women’s sport needed
                                                                                        • Live Sport Viewing

                                                                                          • Sports viewing up
                                                                                            • Figure 22: Viewing of live sport, July 2018
                                                                                            • Figure 23: Viewing of live sport, By age and gender, July 2018
                                                                                        • Type of Sports Watched Live

                                                                                          • Football the most popular sport to watch
                                                                                            • Figure 24: Type of sports viewed, July 2018
                                                                                          • A third watch just one sport
                                                                                            • Figure 25: Number of sports viewed live, by age and gender, July 2018
                                                                                        • Frequency of Watching Live sport

                                                                                          • Almost half watch at least weekly
                                                                                            • Figure 26: Frequency of watching live sport, July 2018
                                                                                          • Men in 20-30s most frequent viewers
                                                                                            • Figure 27: Frequency of watching live sport, by age and gender, July 2018
                                                                                        • Live sport Viewing Venue or Device

                                                                                          • At-home viewing most common
                                                                                              • Figure 28: Venue or device use to watch live sport, July 2018
                                                                                            • Men and younger viewers have more diverse habits
                                                                                                • Figure 29: Venue or device use to watch live sport, by age and gender, July 2018
                                                                                              • Boxing and rugby league fans have most varied viewing habits
                                                                                                • Figure 30: Venue or device use to watch live sport, by sport viewed, July 2018
                                                                                            • Preferred Way to Watch Live sport

                                                                                              • At home viewing preferred
                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Preferred way to watch live sport, July 2018
                                                                                                • Boxing and rugby key for pubs
                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Preferred way to watch live sport, by sport, July 2018
                                                                                              • Live Sport in Pubs

                                                                                                • Live sport a driver to pubs
                                                                                                    • Figure 33: Behaviours associated with watching live sport in pubs, July 2018
                                                                                                  • An up-to-date website is a must
                                                                                                    • Commentary plays a vital role
                                                                                                      • Separate area for non-sport viewers in demand
                                                                                                        • Food and drink promotions a hit with young women
                                                                                                            • Figure 34: Attitudes towards live sport in pubs, July 2018
                                                                                                          • Opportunity for food and sport events
                                                                                                            • Gender divide over live sport in pubs
                                                                                                              • Live sport makes pubs unsuitable for children
                                                                                                              • Live Sport Viewing Behaviours

                                                                                                                • Big sporting events a driver for many…
                                                                                                                  • Figure 35: Behaviours associated with watching live sport, July 2018
                                                                                                                • …and a huge opportunity for brands
                                                                                                                  • Majority who watch outside of home do so with others
                                                                                                                    • Female sports fans most loyal to favourites
                                                                                                                      • Londoners most impacted by Rio Olympics
                                                                                                                        • Biggest sports fans looking to cut back on attending events
                                                                                                                        • The Future of Spectator Sports

                                                                                                                          • VR most appealing to young men
                                                                                                                              • Figure 36: Attitudes towards VR use relating to sports, July 2018
                                                                                                                          • Driving Live Sports Viewing

                                                                                                                            • More coverage of women’s sport needed
                                                                                                                              • Room for more public places to show sport
                                                                                                                                • Opportunity for emerging sports coverage
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 37: Attitudes towards women’s and emerging sports coverage, July 2018
                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                  • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                    • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                    • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                      • Market Value
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 38: Forecast of consumer expenditure on sports event tickets, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                      • Forecast methodology