Description

“The cultural significance of sports was highlighted by its role as a barometer of the COVID-19 pandemic. League cancellations underscored the initial shock of March 2020, return-to-play bubbles illustrated ways to live amid the pandemic and the gradual return of fans to buildings has been a symbolic step towards the end of the pandemic.

That cultural significance – along with its live-viewing nature – makes the sports industry incredibly valuable. It will continue to evolve – both in terms of what sports Canadians follow and how they watch live events – but sports are an important part of many consumers’ lives and therefore an integral industry for its stakeholders.”

– Scott Stewart, Senior Tech & Media Research Analyst

This report covers the following issues:

  • The proportion of Canadians who are sports fans and what sports they follow
  • The methods fans use to watch and listen to live sports events
  • Consumer interest in new broadcast innovations
  • An assessment of interest in betting and what types of wagers fans want to make
  • Demand for out-of-market content and the threat of free online streams

 

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
    • Impact of COVID-19 on sports
      • Figure 1: Immediate, short and longer-term impact of COVID-19 on sports, June 2021
    • Opportunities
    • Sports have broad appeal
    • Consumers want a modernized sports viewing experience
    • Sports betting is a massive opportunity but requires nuance
    • Out-of-market sports demand should continue to increase
    • Challenges
    • Free viewing methods pose a threat to revenues
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • The sports industry is valuable but challenged
    • Demographic trends are particularly important to sports
    • 2020-21 illustrated the influential role of government in sports
  4. The Market – By the Numbers

    • The sports world saw revenues decline, some franchise values increase
    • 2020 revenues declined for all four major North American sports leagues
    • Some franchises actually gained value in 2020
  5. Market Factors

    • An increasingly diverse population will shift demand for sports
      • Figure 2: Immigrants as a proportion of Canadian population, 1871-2036
    • South Asian Canadians will have the largest impact
      • Figure 3: Population of visible minority groups in Canada (thousands), 2011 vs 2036 (proj.)
    • Unemployment rates can impact monthly sports subscriptions
      • Figure 4: Canada unemployment rate, January 2020-May 2021
    • Legalized single-game betting will change the sports landscape
    • Hockey Canada enrollment has flattened
      • Figure 5: Hockey Canada enrollment, 2008-20
    • Impact of COVID-19 on sports
    • Immediate impacts (2020)
    • Short term (2021)
      • Figure 6: Sportsnet PR Twitter post, 2021
      • Figure 7: Sportsnet PR Twitter post, 2021
    • Recovery (2022-25)
  6. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • The sports industry is leveraging tech to modernize the fan experience
    • Leagues must still operate as businesses
  7. Competitive Strategies

    • NFL Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime in 2022
    • Formula 1: Drive to Survive benefits Netflix and F1
      • Figure 8: Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 3 | F1 Netflix | Official Trailer, 2021
    • Player tracking technology is evolving the fan experience
      • Figure 9: Second Spectrum Twitter post, 2021
    • Broadcasters and telecoms are rolling out sports innovations
      • Figure 10: SportsApp on Ignite TV, 2018
      • Figure 11: TSN PR Twitter post, 2021
    • Legalized sports betting in Canada will drive more partnerships
    • NHL’s regional restrictions affect broadcasters’ strategies
    • NHL Live provides the opposite service
    • Regional restrictions are not unique to the NHL
    • Sportsnet is working around regional restrictions with SN Now+
    • The CFL considered partnering with the XFL to build a more sustainable league
  8. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Sports fans in Canada
    • How fans follow sports
    • Sports broadcast innovations
    • Sports betting
    • Post-COVID-19 sports viewing behaviours
    • Out-of-market demand and access to content
  9. Sports Fans in Canada

    • Most Canadians are sports fans
      • Figure 12: Number of different sports followed – Repertoire, 2021
    • Men are more likely to be sports fans than women
      • Figure 13: Number of different sports followed – Repertoire, men vs women, 2021
    • Sports also skew to younger consumers
      • Figure 14: Follow any sports, by age, 2021
    • Cultural differences in sports fandom evident by race and region
      • Figure 15: Follow any sports, by race, 2021
      • Figure 16: Sports followed, Quebec vs overall, 2021
    • The Olympics can reach those who do not follow other sports
      • Figure 17: Usually watch the Olympic Games, sports fans vs non-fans, 2021
    • Only half of fans watch most of their favourite team’s games
      • Figure 18: Proportion of a favourite team’s games watched/listened to, 2021
    • Women present an opportunity to get more invested fans
      • Figure 19: Proportion of a favourite team’s games watched/listened to, men vs women, 2021
    • Sports fandom is exponential
      • Figure 20: Watch all/almost all of a favourite team’s games, by number of sports followed, 2021
    • The Big Four pro leagues are facing increasing competition
      • Figure 21: Sports followed, 2021
      • Figure 22: Sports followed, by age, 2021
      • Figure 23: Sports followed, by race, 2021
    • Curling, lacrosse and cricket are a microcosm of sports evolution in Canada
      • Figure 24: Sports followed: curling, lacrosse and cricket, by age, 2021
      • Figure 25: Sports followed: curling, lacrosse and cricket, by race, 2021
    • Sports fandom in Canada is different than the US
  10. How Fans Follow Sports

    • Cable/satellite TV is still the leading source for sports
      • Figure 26: Sources used to follow live sports events, 2021
    • Cable/satellite TV is driven by older consumers
      • Figure 27: Traditional sources used to follow live sports events, by age, 2021
    • Income, race and living area demographics also highlight cable/satellite TV’s skews
      • Figure 28: Use cable/satellite TV to follow live sports events, by race, household income and living location, 2021
    • Streaming sports is the future of this industry
      • Figure 29: Use streaming services to follow live sports events, by age, 2021
      • Figure 30: Use streaming services to follow live sports events, by race, household income and living location, 2021
    • Demographic skews have implications for different sports leagues
      • Figure 31: Use streaming services to follow live sports events, by sports followed, 2021
    • Delayed, non-direct viewing behaviours are a threat
      • Figure 32: Use social media or digital game trackers to follow live sports events, by age, 2021
      • Figure 33: Use social media or digital game trackers to follow live sports events, by race, household income and living location, 2021
    • Social media and digital game trackers illustrate the importance of competitive pricing
  11. Sports Broadcast Innovations

    • More capabilities and options will help modernize broadcasts
      • Figure 34: Interest in new sports broadcast capabilities, 2021
    • Younger consumers are the most interested in these new capabilities
      • Figure 35: Interest in new sports broadcast capabilities (% very interested), by age, 2021
      • Figure 36: Re-watch Montreal Canadiens vs Tampa Bay Lightning Game 5 LIVE w/Steve Dangle + Cup Celebrations, 2021
    • Innovating how sports content is made available
      • Figure 37: Interest in access to sports broadcast content, 2021
    • Demographic skews match demand for new broadcast capabilities
    • Reimagining how sports broadcasts are designed
      • Figure 38: Interest in different types of sports broadcasts, 2021
      • Figure 39: Best of NFL on Nickelodeon!, 2021
    • These new types of broadcasts could have wider appeal
      • Figure 40: Interest in different types of sports broadcasts, men vs women, 2021
    • A simpler approach: adjusting on-air insights
      • Figure 41: Interest in analysis included in sports broadcasts, 2021
      • Figure 42: Interest in analysis included in sports broadcasts, by age, 2021
    • Betting analysis represents the next step for broadcasters
    • Including more coverage of women’s sports is a key to driving viewership with young women
      • Figure 43: Would like to see more coverage of women’s sports (% agree), by age and gender, 2021
      • Figure 44: PWHPA Instagram post, 2021
  12. Sports Betting

    • Half of sports fans are interested in betting
      • Figure 45: Interest in types of sports betting, 2021
    • Betting behaviours correlate with more sports watched
      • Figure 46: Interest in sports betting, by number of sports followed, 2021
    • Younger fans are the most likely to bet on sports
      • Figure 47: Interest in sports betting, by age, 2021
      • Figure 48: TSN Edge Twitter post, 2021
    • Men, urban dwellers and multicultural Canadians are more open to sports betting
      • Figure 49: Interest in sports betting, by race, gender and living location, 2021
      • Figure 50: Listen to podcasts about sports (% agree), by race, gender and living location, 2020
    • Leagues are impacted by these demographic differences
      • Figure 51: Interest in sports betting, by sports followed, 2021
    • Single-game, live and daily betting
    • Live and daily betting is more popular among younger fans
      • Figure 52: Interest in types of sports betting, by age, 2020
    • Not all betting is created equal
  13. Post-COVID-19 Sports Viewing Behaviours

    • Fans want to watch sports together
      • Figure 53: Post-COVID-19 sports activities, 2021
    • Gatherings should result in more viewership from casual fans
      • Figure 54: Post-COVID-19 sports activities, by proportion of favourite team’s games watched/listened to, 2021
    • Entertaining at home and restaurants stand to benefit from sports get-togethers
      • Figure 55: BlogTO Instagram post, 2021
    • Sports as live entertainment will see demand surges, too
      • Figure 56: Looking forward to attending an event in person post-COVID-19, by household income, 2021
    • Viewers want to see fans again
      • Figure 57: Looking forward to watching events full of fans, by proportion of favourite team’s games watched/listened to, 2021
    • The pandemic created more advertising opportunities
      • Figure 58: Chicago Cubs Instagram post, 2021
    • Advertisements on players are more salient to fans
  14. Out-of-market Demand and Access to Content

    • Half of hockey fans are fans of an out-of-market team
      • Figure 59: I am a fan of an out-of-market NHL team (% agree), by age, 2021
    • Out-of-market fandom is similar across regions
    • Out-of-market viewership correlates with betting
      • Figure 60: Regularly watch out-of-market sports games/events (% agree), by interest in sports betting, 2021
    • Hockey fans are the least likely to watch out-of-market games
      • Figure 61: Regularly watch out-of-market sports games/events (% agree), by sports followed, 2021
    • Content access: free streams and the leverage of sports broadcasters
      • Figure 62: Missed a game because of lack of access (% agree), by age, 2021
      • Figure 63: Watched live sports on an free online stream (% agree), by age, 2021
    • Ways to battle against free online streams
      • Figure 64: SN Now – Life Coach Illegal Streams – YouTube, 2021
  15. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Mintel Trend Drivers
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.

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