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Key points included

  • Almost all US adults are sports fans
  • Young adults represent the future of fandom
  • Overall interest in the NFL and MLB could already be weakening

Covered in this report

The full scope of the sports market is difficult to define, but revenue brought in by US professional sports leagues alone has doubled in the past decade to $37.7 billion annually. The National Football League is the most lucrative of these organizations, drawing the most viewers and inspiring the most passion in fans. Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association hold their own in terms of viewership and elicit more engagement from fans than the NFL. Data also shows that Gen Z adults are drawn to basketball more than baseball or football, indicating that there will be more opportunity for basketball as a professional sport moving forward.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

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

Nearly all consumers in the US are fans of watching at least one sport, and the majority of sports fans enjoy watching football, basketball and/or baseball. Sporting events offer marketers a plethora of opportunities to reach a broad population of consumers with advertising, sponsorships and athlete endorsements Kristen Boesel
Senior Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst

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What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definitions
      • Executive Summary

          • Market overview
            • Top takeaways
              • Takeaway #1: Almost all US adults are sports fans
                • Figure 1: Self-reported fandom, by sport, September 2019
                • Figure 2: Sports fandom, by gender, September 2019
              • Opportunities
                • Takeaway #2: Young adults represent the future of fandom
                  • Figure 3: Sports fandom, by age, September 2019
                • Opportunities
                  • Takeaway #3: Overall interest in the NFL and MLB could already be weakening
                    • Figure 4: Past 12-month interest in professional sports leagues, 2011-2019
                    • Figure 5: Barriers to fandom, by sport, September 2019
                  • Opportunities
                    • What it means/what’s next
                    • The Market – What You Need to Know

                      • Americans love sports
                        • Sports-related revenue comes from a variety of sources
                          • The NFL is a powerhouse
                            • The fantasy sports market is basically the fantasy football market
                            • Scope of US Fandom

                                • Most Americans are fans of the Big Three
                                  • Figure 6: Self-reported fandom, by sport, September 2019
                                • Football is America’s most popular sport – especially the NFL
                                  • Figure 7: Past 12-month interest by type of sport, 2019
                                • Fans equally interested in NCAA basketball and the NBA
                                  • Figure 8: Past 12-month interest in college sports, 2011-2019
                                • Interest in summer Olympics spikes every four years
                                  • Figure 9: Past 12-month interest in the summer Olympics, 2010-2019
                                • Case study: Reebok’s 1992 Dan and Dave campaign
                                • Professional Sports Leagues

                                    • Professional sports leagues generate almost $40 billion in revenue
                                      • Figure 10: Total revenue for US major professional sports leagues and teams, 2009-2018
                                    • Four primary leagues
                                      • Figure 11: Key numbers for US pro sports leagues, 2018
                                      • Figure 12: Team values within pro sports leagues, by league, 2018
                                    • Very different seasons
                                      • Tradition gave the MLB a long season; team income keeps it long
                                        • The NFL: Sports’ biggest moneymaker
                                        • Fantasy Sports

                                            • Fantasy fuels income for multiple industries
                                              • One in 10 men in the US play fantasy football
                                                • Figure 13: Past 12-month fantasy sports participation, June 2019
                                                • Figure 14: Past 12-month fantasy football participation, by gender, age and Hispanic origin, June 2019
                                              • Chances for fantasy sports to grow with Emerging Generation
                                              • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                                                • Female athletes: winning accolades and gaining recognition
                                                  • Many consumers lack the patience for baseball
                                                    • The NFL must remain relevant to stay on top
                                                    • What’s Working

                                                      • ESPN, CBS and Yahoo! Sports are top destinations for sports news
                                                        • Figure 15: Online behavior data: past seven-day visitation to select sports-related websites* on any web-enabled device, among total adult population, Fall 2018-Spring 2019
                                                      • Digital advertising spend on sports sites can be seasonal too
                                                        • Figure 16: Total direct spend for top advertisers on ESPN.com, Fall 2018 and Spring 2019
                                                        • Figure 17: eBay digital creative, desktop display, 2019
                                                      • YouTube and social media offer opportunities to connect with fans
                                                        • Fans look for older footage on YouTube
                                                          • Spotlight: Retired, but still relevant
                                                            • Figure 18: 30 Years of Comfort with Michael Jordan, March 2019
                                                            • Figure 19: CX – Football Superstition :30, August 2019
                                                          • Social media accounts offer fans a personal connection to favorite teams and players
                                                            • Spotlight: Julian Edelman on YouTube
                                                              • Figure 20: Julian Edelman's State of the YouTube Address with Julian Edelman, September 2019
                                                            • Foodservice chains benefit from Fantasy Football
                                                              • Simone Biles breaks records; generates excitement for Tokyo 2020
                                                              • What’s Struggling

                                                                • Sports fandom in America is not yet 100%
                                                                  • Those who aren’t sports fans skew older and female
                                                                    • Non-fans do not offer a desirable target
                                                                      • Figure 21: Demographic infographic, sports fans vs non-fans, September 2019
                                                                    • The Big Three each face nuanced barriers to fandom
                                                                      • Football’s confusing rules present a barrier to non-fans
                                                                        • Shorter games and seasons could win more baseball fans
                                                                          • MLB struggles to shorten games
                                                                            • Basketball
                                                                              • Figure 22: Correspondence analysis – Principal map – Barriers to fandom, September 2019
                                                                              • Figure 23: Barriers to fandom, by sport, September 2019
                                                                            • The NFL weathers controversy
                                                                              • The Colin Kaepernick saga continues
                                                                                • Luck walks away
                                                                                • What to Watch

                                                                                  • Potential trouble on the horizon for the NBA
                                                                                    • NBA will face ethical challenges to keep its China market
                                                                                      • Growing concerns about NBA players’ sleep deprivation
                                                                                        • Legalized gambling will be a game changer
                                                                                          • Betting gives the NFL a boost
                                                                                            • Fantasy sports occupy a gambling gray area
                                                                                              • Athletes grow vocal about fair treatment
                                                                                                • US Women’s National Soccer team files lawsuit; demands equality
                                                                                                  • Olympians get the chance to cash in
                                                                                                    • California pioneers pay for student athletes
                                                                                                    • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                      • Younger adults feel more connected to basketball
                                                                                                        • Football inspires passion in fans
                                                                                                          • Baseball and basketball fans put in more effort
                                                                                                            • Gifting occasions offer opportunities for team merchandise
                                                                                                              • Potential to grow US interest in soccer
                                                                                                                • Football viewing inspires fans to buy
                                                                                                                  • Baseball draws fans in person
                                                                                                                    • Tailgating happens most often for football
                                                                                                                    • Characteristics of Sports Fans

                                                                                                                        • Most are fans of the Big Three, but not all Big Three fans are the same
                                                                                                                          • Figure 24: Demographic infographic, Big Three fans vs Other fans, September 2019
                                                                                                                        • Generational differences in fandom
                                                                                                                          • Basketball draws more young fans than football
                                                                                                                            • Baseball has greater appeal for older generations
                                                                                                                              • Figure 25: Sports fandom, by age, September 2019
                                                                                                                            • Racial profile of fans varies across sports
                                                                                                                                • Figure 26: Sports fandom, by race and Hispanic origin, September 2019
                                                                                                                              • Olympics-related sponsorships offer opportunities to reach female fans
                                                                                                                                • Figure 27: Sports fandom, by gender, September 2019
                                                                                                                            • Fans’ Passion and Engagement

                                                                                                                                • True fandom requires commitment; inspires unity
                                                                                                                                  • Football fans claim to be the most passionate about their sport
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 28: Self-reported level of fandom, by sport, September 2019
                                                                                                                                    • Male fans more likely to feel passionate about sports
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 29: Self-reported level of fandom, by sport, gender and age, September 2019
                                                                                                                                    • Basketball and baseball fans engage beyond just watching games
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 30: Fan engagement, by sport, September 2019
                                                                                                                                    • Case study: The Chicago Cubs’ new YouTube strategy
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 31: Cubs’ YouTube channel subscriber count, February 2018 - October 2019
                                                                                                                                    • Branded Merchandise

                                                                                                                                      • True fans are open to gifting, but may balk at buying
                                                                                                                                        • Gifting could offer opportunities
                                                                                                                                          • Football fans buy more team apparel than basketball fans
                                                                                                                                            • Baseball fans buy more team-related hats than fans of other sports
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 32: Fans’ team merchandise purchases, by sport, September 2019
                                                                                                                                            • Case study: Barclays NFL Extra Points Credit Card
                                                                                                                                            • Viewing Frequency

                                                                                                                                              • Almost half of all football fans seldom miss a game
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 33: Regular season viewing frequency, by sport, September 2019
                                                                                                                                              • Soccer fans are more interested in national teams than MLS
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 34: Postseason viewing frequency, by sport, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 35: Past 12-month interest in types of soccer teams, 2010-2019
                                                                                                                                            • Watching at Home

                                                                                                                                              • Most fans watch sports coverage live on TV at home
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 36: Viewing methods for sports in general, September 2019
                                                                                                                                              • Spotlight: Sunday night is laundry night?
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 37: Tide | When Is Laundry Night?, September 2019
                                                                                                                                              • Fans watch The Big Three in similar ways
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 38: Sports viewing methods, by sport, September 2019
                                                                                                                                              • Football works best for viewing parties
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 39: In-home viewing, by sport, September 2019
                                                                                                                                              • Even non-party viewing triggers purchases
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 40: Purchases related to home viewing, by sport, September 2019
                                                                                                                                              • Going to the Game

                                                                                                                                                • Attending live games isn’t a cheap prospect for fans
                                                                                                                                                  • Baseball draws the most fans to live games
                                                                                                                                                    • Case study: Red Sox make effort to keep fans engaged
                                                                                                                                                      • Tailgating is most common among football fans
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 41: Attending live games, by sport, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                      • Case study: RTIC Coolers
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 42: RTIC Coolers digital creative, desktop display, 2018
                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                                                      • Data sources
                                                                                                                                                        • Desk research
                                                                                                                                                          • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                                                            • Behavioral data
                                                                                                                                                              • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                                                                                                • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                                                                  • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                    • Terms
                                                                                                                                                                      • Generation definitions
                                                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 43: Online behavior data: past seven-day visitation to sports-related websites on any web-enabled device, among total adult population, Fall 2018-Spring 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 44: Football fan engagement, by gender, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 45: Football fans’ merchandise purchases, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 46: Football fans’ food and beverage purchases, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 47: Basketball fan engagement, by gender, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 48: Basketball fans’ merchandise purchases, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 49: Basketball fans’ food and beverage purchases, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 50: Baseball fan engagement, by gender, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 51: Baseball viewing habits, by gender, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 52: Baseball fans’ merchandise purchases, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 53: Baseball fans’ food and beverage purchases, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                                        • Correspondence Analysis
                                                                                                                                                                          • Methodology
                                                                                                                                                                            • Outputs
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 54: Correspondence analysis – Symmetrical map – Barriers to fandom, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 55: Correspondence analysis – Principal map – Barriers to fandom, September 2019
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 56: Barriers to fandom, September 2019

                                                                                                                                                                          About the report

                                                                                                                                                                          This report will give you a complete 360-degree view of your market. Not only is it rooted in robust proprietary and high-quality third-party data, but our industry experts put that data into context and you’ll quickly understand:

                                                                                                                                                                          • The Consumer

                                                                                                                                                                            What They Want. Why They Want It.

                                                                                                                                                                          • The Competitors

                                                                                                                                                                            Who’s Winning. How To Stay Ahead.

                                                                                                                                                                          • The Market

                                                                                                                                                                            Size, Segments, Shares And Forecasts: How It All Adds Up.

                                                                                                                                                                          • The Innovations

                                                                                                                                                                            New Ideas. New Products. New Potential.

                                                                                                                                                                          • The Opportunities

                                                                                                                                                                            Where The White Space Is. How To Make It Yours.

                                                                                                                                                                          • The Trends

                                                                                                                                                                            What’s Shaping Demand – Today And Tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                          Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.

                                                                                                                                                                          Description