Description

“Football continues to dominate the American sport landscape and is among one of the last appointment-viewing broadcasts. Brands pay a premium to be attached to the emotions surrounding the sport, leagues, teams and players. NIL deals within college football have also provided opportunities for local and regional businesses to enhance brand equity and increase exposure. Football fandom goes beyond the field of play and has expanded to become a year-long venture through NFL fan engagement initiatives.”

– John Lisec, Sports & Leisure Analyst

This Report looks at the following areas:

  • Football fan following and key demographics of fans
  • Factors impacting the football landscape and football fans
  • How fans follow football and opportunities to reach fans
  • Ways to increase interest in football
  • Consumer attitudes toward football

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas
        • Definition
          • Market context
          • Executive Summary

              • Top takeaways
                • Market overview
                  • Figure 1: Football outlook, 2022-27
                • Opportunities
                  • Opportunities remain to engage Gen Z, Millennial men and fathers
                    • Figure 2: Increasing interest in football – Select items, by male, generations, fathers and fans, 2022
                  • Improved integration opportunities for live football content
                    • Figure 3: Services and devices used to follow football, 2022
                  • Significant potential overseas
                    • Figure 4: NFL Communications Twitter post – NFL Announces International Home Marketing Areas, 2021
                  • College football and NIL: Fan engagement opportunities up for grabs
                    • Social responsibility is an influential factor for football fans
                      • Figure 5: Attitudes toward social responsibility and DEI in football; NFL Inspire Change helmet, 2022
                    • Football betting and fantasy participation may drive engagement
                      • Challenges
                        • Engaging underrepresented groups
                          • Figure 6: Football fans, by key demographics, 2022
                        • Controversies continue to add up: Will fans have a breaking point?
                          • In-home viewing competes with in-person attendance?
                            • Key consumer insights
                            • The US Football Landscape

                              • Driven by TV viewership, football is fully entrenched as America’s pastime
                                • Figure 7: Sports followed, by adults and kids, 2022
                                • Figure 8: Most-watched broadcasts, Super Bowl Audience, NFL viewership, 2021-22
                              • Key players
                                • Figure 9: Football leagues
                                • Figure 10: Football fan following – Leagues followed, June 2022
                              • The average NFL team is worth nearly $4.5 billion
                                • Figure 11: Forbes – NFL team revenue sources, 2022
                              • Revenue rebounds from pandemic disruption
                                • Figure 12: Steve Berkowitz/USA Today Sports Twitter post – 2021 revenues by Power 5 conferences
                            • Football Fans – Demographic Profile

                              • Half of adults follow football, fandom skews male and middle-aged or older
                                  • Figure 13: Profile of football fans, indexed to all consumers, 2022
                              • Factors Impacting Football

                                • Pandemic spurs alternate fan engagement strategies
                                  • Figure 14: Fan engagement Twitter posts, 2020
                                • Rising costs price some fans out attendance, paying for streaming football
                                  • Figure 15: CPI changes from previous year ago, 2020-22
                                • NIL and college football: Emerging sponsorship opportunities
                                  • Figure 16: College Football NIL Twitter posts, 2022
                                • Social justice and diversity within leadership positions
                                  • Player safety and concussions are a concern
                                    • Figure 17: The Athletic Twitter post – Guardian Helmets Introduced in NFL Training Camps, 2022
                                • What’s Next for America’s Most Lucrative Sport?

                                  • No signs of slowing down
                                    • More football, improved experience, creative revenue generation to come
                                      • Controversies continue to add up: Will fans have a breaking point?
                                        • Figure 18: Rachel Bonnetta Twitter post – NFL Controversy Reaction, 2021
                                    • Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

                                      • Mintel Trends
                                        • Technology: new ways to consume football content
                                          • Thursday Night Football moves to Amazon Prime as streaming becomes mainstream
                                            • Figure 19: ESPN Adam Schefter Twitter post – Monday Night Football Flex Scheduling, 2022
                                          • Companion TV broadcasts: ESPN’s ManningCast and Barstool Sports’ Witching Hour
                                            • Figure 20: Companion TV broadcast Twitter posts, 2022
                                          • FanDuel TV takes football betting into the living room
                                            • Figure 21: Sports Business Journal Twitter post – TVG rebranding as FanDuel TV, 2022
                                          • NFL Slimetime: Football TV broadcasts Nickelodeon-style
                                            • Figure 22: Sports Business Journal Twitter post– NFL Slimetime, 2021
                                          • College football social media behind-the-scenes access
                                            • Figure 23: College football social media engagement Facebook posts, 2022
                                          • Facial recognition to enter stadiums and purchase concessions to debut
                                            • Figure 24: Atlanta Journal-Constitution Twitter post – Facial recognition at Mercedes Benz Stadium, 2022
                                          • Identity: targeted engagement strategies
                                            • NFL preseason games best utilized as product extensions in unique locations
                                              • International growth efforts by the NFL
                                                • Figure 25: NFL International Home Marketing Areas program countries and teams, 2022
                                                • Figure 26: NFL International Series Twitter post, 2022
                                              • Sports betting companies look to former ESPN talent to target football fans via podcasts
                                                • Figure 27: Sports Business Journal Twitter post – DraftKings and Dan Le Batard distribution deal, 2021
                                              • Community engagement a key priority of leagues, teams and players
                                                • Figure 28: Front Office Sports Twitter post – NFL Inspire Change social justice contributions, 2022
                                              • Football is for everyone
                                                • Figure 29: NFL Twitter post – Football is for Everyone, 2022
                                              • Experiences: reconceptualization of modern football fan expectations
                                                • Beyond revenue generation: Concessions as an experience enhancement tool
                                                  • The suite life of hands-on technology and gaming demos
                                                    • Betting at football stadiums finally emerges
                                                      • Figure 30: Front Office Twitter post – Arizona Cardinals and BetMGM first in-venue sportsbook, 2022
                                                  • Football Fans – Fast Facts

                                                    • Football is the most popular sport in America, with no off-season
                                                      • Football is the last appointment TV-viewing giant; streaming, social media making gains
                                                        • Male Millennial fans watch multiple games simultaneously
                                                          • Sports betting and fantasy participation may drive engagement
                                                            • Player safety, community involvement, DEI and player personalities are areas of interest
                                                            • Exploring Football Fans

                                                              • Football growth through micro-targeting demographic segments
                                                                  • Figure 31: Football fans, by key demographics, 2022
                                                                • College football prime for a reboot
                                                                  • Figure 32: Football leagues followed, by key demographics indexed to fans of each league, 2022
                                                                • Passion for football is similarly high across all leagues followed
                                                                  • Figure 33: Level of football fandom, by league, 2022
                                                                • Spotlight on the XFL
                                                                  • Figure 34: NFL Football Operations Twitter post – NFL and XFL collaboration announcement, 2022
                                                                • Football must take action in response to fans’ concerns
                                                                  • Figure 35: Reasons for not following football, 2022
                                                                  • Figure 36: NFL Football Operations Twitter post – Introduction of flag football to The World Games, 2022
                                                                • Access to out-of-market games to improve
                                                                • How Fans Follow Football

                                                                  • Broadcast television is king, but new outlets gaining momentum
                                                                    • Figure 37: Services used to follow football, 2022
                                                                  • Improved integration opportunities await live football content
                                                                    • Figure 38: Devices used to follow football, 2022
                                                                  • Opportunities to engage 18-44 Black and Hispanic football fans through streaming
                                                                    • Figure 39: Services and devices used to follow football, by 18-44s and race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                  • Premier matchups are key to increase Thursday and Saturday interest
                                                                    • Figure 40: Days of the week to follow football, by NFL and college leagues, 2022
                                                                • Opportunities to Reach Football Fans

                                                                  • Off-season engagement, sports betting, fantasy football provides growth opportunities
                                                                    • Figure 41: Football following behaviors, 2022
                                                                  • Football truly is family: A year-long family with no off-season
                                                                      • Figure 42: Keeps up to date with football news, by key parent/children/family demos, 2022
                                                                    • Football must continually reinvent the live sports experience
                                                                      • Figure 43: Following football on social media and multiple games simultaneously, by generation, 2022
                                                                    • Sports betting and fantasy football have significant room for growth
                                                                      • Figure 44: Fantasy Football Twitter posts, 2020-22
                                                                      • Figure 45: Betting on football and fantasy/pick ‘em league participation, by gender and age, 2022
                                                                  • Increasing Interest in Football

                                                                    • Despite strong interest, opportunities remain to engage new demographics
                                                                      • Figure 46: Increasing interest in football, 2022
                                                                    • Increasing interest in football through connections of parents and families
                                                                      • Figure 47: Increasing interest in football – People close to me follow, by key parent/children/family demos, 2022
                                                                    • Key opportunities for CRM, co-branded activations and consumer loyalty
                                                                      • Figure 48: Increasing interest in football – Earned rewards for following, by male, generations and fans, 2022
                                                                      • Figure 49: College football rewards programs Twitter posts, 2020-21
                                                                    • Growth of football media must not be at the expense of game attendance
                                                                      • Figure 50: Attitudes toward football – Watching at home vs going to games, by gender and age, 2022
                                                                  • Attitudes toward Football

                                                                    • Social responsibility is important to a majority of fans
                                                                      • Figure 51: Attitudes toward football – Social responsibility and DEI, 2022
                                                                    • Player safety remains area of concern, especially among dads
                                                                      • Figure 52: Attitudes toward football – Player protection, by league, parent status and parent by gender, 2022
                                                                    • Older fans want football players/teams to be involved in their community
                                                                      • Figure 53: Attitudes toward football – Community involvement, by generation, 2022
                                                                    • Race influences perceptions of controversies and DEI within football
                                                                      • Figure 54: Attitudes toward football – Controversial issues and DEI, by race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                    • Young fans are most receptive to personal connection strategies
                                                                      • Figure 55: Attitudes toward football – Personal connection, by gender and age, 2022
                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                    • Data sources
                                                                      • Consumer survey data
                                                                        • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                          • Abbreviations
                                                                          • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                              • Figure 56: Follows football – Trended, 2020-22

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