Description

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the U.S College Football and Basketball markets including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

College football and basketball are two of the most popular sports in the country and attract fans throughout the US, creating major opportunities for businesses and brands alike. The COVID-19 pandemic turned the sports world upside down, and collegiate sports were hit especially hard. College football and basketball have had to adapt to reach and engage fans in new ways. But with new opportunities arising for brands to use college sports to connect with fans, the future of two of the country’s most popular sports remains bright for fans and brands alike.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer behavior and the college football and basketball market.
  • How name, image, and likeness laws could revolutionize brand integration in college sports.
  • Consumer engagement with college football and basketball in the coming years.
  • The future trends set to take hold in college sports.
  • College football market size


Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Colin O’Brien, a leading analyst in the Leisure sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

COVID-19 completely upended the college sports world. Days before it was set to begin, the biggest event in all of college sports – the NCAA Basketball Tournament – was cancelled. Even when college sports returned in the fall, it was anything but normal. While brands still flocked to two of the country’s most popular sports, consumer interest in college football and basketball suffered due to the pandemic. Moving forward, sports entities and brands must continue to utilize new methods to reach and engage fans to rebuild this lost enthusiasm.

Colin O’Brien
Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
    • Impact of COVID-19 on college football and basketball
      • Figure 1: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on college football and basketball, February 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Bowl games face a decline
    • College sports should look to give back locally to support businesses struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic
    • New NIL laws will revolutionize marketing with college sports
    • College sports should tap into consumables opportunity
      • Figure 2: School branded whiskey
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Bowl games face a decline
    • New NIL laws will revolutionize marketing opportunities in college sports
    • NMSU whiskey illustrates consumables opportunity
  4. The College Sports Market

    • College sports world garners massive fan attention
    • COVID-19 completely upended the college sports world
    • Economic impact further contributes to decreased fan interest
      • Figure 3: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000- December 2020
    • Impact of COVID-19 on college football and basketball
      • Figure 4: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on college football and basketball, February 2021
    • Lockdown
    • Re-emergence
    • Recovery
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Learnings from the last recession
  5. Market Factors

    • Bowl games face a decline
      • Figure 5: Brand synergy for bowl game naming rights
    • College town businesses suffer due to pandemic
    • College basketball’s delayed start opens doors for new brand involvement
      • Figure 6: Local brand college basketball tournament sponsorship
    • Advancement of NIL laws could drastically impact the college sports industry
  6. Market Opportunities

    • Tap into the college sports halo effect
    • New NIL laws will revolutionize marketing with college sports
      • Figure 7: Sabrina Ionescu endorsement post college career
    • Create connections through consumables
      • Figure 8: School branded whiskey
    • Provide enhanced access to sports teams and players
      • Figure 9: Clemson football Disney+ movie
    • Gaming opens doors to new brand integrations
      • Figure 10: Madden NFL 20 Bowl sponsors
  7. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Bowl game sponsorships provide reach and further advertising access
    • Pac-12 leans into “Pacific” theme for sponsorships
    • Education a focus for Allstate and Dr Pepper partnerships
  8. Competitive Strategies

    • Local brands can enhance value of bowl game naming rights sponsorship
    • Barnes & Noble Education, Fanatics, and Lids partnership illustrates value of symbiotic relationships
    • Pac-12 leans into “Pacific” theme for sponsorships
    • Education a focus for Allstate and Dr Pepper partnerships
      • Figure 11: Dr Pepper tuition giveaway
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • College fandom creates a heightened sense of identity
    • Social media’s importance to reach and engage fans continues to rise
    • Gaming can help college sports connect to younger fans
    • Fans want college sports to be involved and active in supporting social causes
  10. Consumer Trends Impacting College Football and Basketball

    • Experiences
    • Identity
    • Technology
    • Surroundings & Rights
    • Wellbeing
  11. Exploring College Football and Basketball Fans

    • College football and basketball are two of the most popular sports in the US
      • Figure 12: Sports fandom by sport, November 2020
    • COVID-19 pandemic causes setback for collegiate fan passion
      • Figure 13: College sports passion by sport followed, November 2020
      • Figure 14: College sports passion by sport, November 2020
    • College fandom creates a heightened sense of identity
      • Figure 15: College sports attitudes, November 2020
      • Figure 16: Using home courts to further fan connection
    • Highlight female success stories in college sports
      • Figure 17: Sports fandom index by sport, by gender, November 2020
      • Figure 18: First woman to play in a Power 5 college football game
    • College sports faces a generational problem
      • Figure 19: Sports fandom index by sport, by generation, November 2020
    • College sports have opportunity to grow fandom through multicultural consumers
      • Figure 20: Sports fandom index by sport, by race, November 2020
      • Figure 21: Japanese-specific Washington Wizards Twitter account
    • Appealing to the non-college sports fan
      • Figure 22: Barriers for college sports fandom, November 2020
  12. Following the Action on the Field

    • Sports remain the stalwart of live television, but college sports should continue to utilize digital mediums
      • Figure 23: Methods for following college sports, by generation, November 2020
    • Social media rivals television for most important platform
      • Figure 24: Methods for following college sports, November 2020
      • Figure 25: LSU Football acclaimed social media post
      • Figure 26: MSU sponsored social media score update
  13. Connecting with the College Sports Fan

    • COVID-19 induced problems for fan engagement
      • Figure 27: College football and basketball engagement attitudes, November 2020
      • Figure 28: College football championship ratings, 1999-2021
    • Tentpole events hold greater importance for college sports
      • Figure 29: College basketball behaviors, by college basketball fandom, November 2020
      • Figure 30: March Madness brand integrations
    • Rivalry games are ripe for further brand integration
    • Ancillary games can help college sports connect to younger fans
      • Figure 31: Toledo NCAA Football 14 inspired merchandise
      • Figure 32: College Madden tournament
    • Look to virtual experiences to fill the void of limited in-person fan capacities
      • Figure 33: College sports attitudes, among fans, November 2020
      • Figure 34: Penn State virtual tailgate
    • Continue to use merchandise to enhance the fan connection
  14. Supporting the Greater Good through College Sports

    • College sports should use their platform to support social justice
      • Figure 35: Racial justice demonstrations
      • Figure 36: College sports attitudes, among fans, November 2020
    • College sports can support both physical and mental wellbeing
      • Figure 37: Iowa football tradition to wave to children’s hospital
    • College sports GOTV campaigns target the lowest turnout demographic
      • Figure 38: College arenas as polling places
  15. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Direct marketing creative
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  16. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 39: College sports behaviors, by college sports fandom, November 2020
      • Figure 40: College football attitudes, November 2020
      • Figure 41: College basketball attitudes, November 2020
      • Figure 42: College sports attitudes, November 2020
      • Figure 43: College sports attitudes, among fans, November 2020
      • Figure 44: College sports attitudes, by generation, November 2020

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