Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Marketing to Sports Fans market including the behaviors, preferences, and habits of the consumer. This sports marketing strategies report also covers the market size, market forecast, market segmentation, and industry trends for the US Marketing to Sports Fans market.

Current market landscape

Overall, 81% of adult consumers follow at least one sport, and on the whole, fans care deeply about sports. Three in five sports fans consider themselves to be passionate fans, with one third of fans overall categorizing themselves as very passionate. That passion is one reason sports are ripe for brand investment and marketing, as they offer a captive, engaged audience every day of the year.

COVID-19 obviously had a major impact on the sports world as it created a monumental moment in the history of sports – they all stopped. Sports entities learned to employ new tactics to reach and engage fans since the onset of the pandemic. Now that stadiums are packed with fans again, these brands now have additional methods to engage fans both in attendance and at home.

Future market trends in  marketing to US sports fans

The future of sports fandom is dependent on appealing to the next generations of fans. Only three sports (basketball, boxing/MMA and soccer) are seeing great success among the youngest generation of adult fans, Gen Z. Other sports should look to these three sports for inspiration on how to better appeal to these younger fans, as otherwise they will continue to see their core fans age without supplementing them with new fans.

Women’s sports are an underutilized segment of the sports industry that holds tremendous potential for growth. Although women’s sports may seem more commonplace today, they are still very much in their infancy as a professional institution, which makes their already apparent success even more impressive. As a result of greater investment in women’s sports, fandom has increased. Brands should absolutely look to get involved now and help continue the momentum of women’s sports.

Read on to discover more about the US Marketing to Sports Fans consumer market, read our US Sporting Goods Retail Market Report 2021, or take a look at our other Leisure Time research reports.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the sports market.
  • How sports fans engage with and follow sports and how to cultivate fandom.
  • Technological innovations that have impacted sports and will continue to do so.
  • The opportunities ancillary games around sports provide brands.

Covered in this report

Brands include: Castrol, SeatGeek, Rose Bowl, Amazon, Formula 1, Grand Prix, Netflix, Sports Illustrated, Venmo, ESPN, CarMax, Michelob, Nickelodeon, Nissan, Instagram, Shopify, Taco Bell, Pepsi, Louis Vuitton, DirecTV Apple, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Peacock, Paramount+, Invisalign, TikTok, DoorDash, Marvel, Chalk Line, Ewing Athletics, Junk Food, Disney, Whoop, Madden, FIFA, NBA 2K, MLB the Show, Fortnite, Burger King, State Farm, Yahoo Sports, FuboTV, BetMGM, DISH Network.

Leagues/Teams include: Los Angeles Rams, NFL, PGA, LPGA, WTA, WNBA, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golden State Warriors, Jacksonville Jaguars, Ajax, Los Angeles Dodgers, NASCAR, Los Angeles Galaxy, Los Angeles Chargers.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Colin O’Brien, a leading analyst in the Sports sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Sports remain a powerful unifying force, capable of bringing people of all different types of backgrounds together to feel part of the same community. Sports fans are a devoted and engaged audience, well suited for brand integration and marketing. Looking ahead, the future of fandom remains bright as sports continue to be well positioned for growth.

Colin O’Brien, Sports Analyst
Colin O’Brien
Sports Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • The sports halo effect illuminates value of sports partnerships
    • Television digital are the most important mediums for following sports
    • Technology innovation creates new in-person experience for fans
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Sports fandom, by sport, 2021
    • Impact of COVID-19 on sports
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on sports, 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Invest in women’s sports
    • Expect more themed broadcasts to connect with new audiences
      • Figure 3: Themed sports broadcasts appeal, by gender and generation, 2021
    • The ancillary sports games offer new opportunities for brand integrations
      • Figure 4: Ancillary games, by gender and generation, 2021
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Sports fans well represented across all types of people
    • Sustainability efforts are a growing priority for the sports world
    • Technology enhances fan experience at in-person sporting events
  4. The Sports Market

    • Market overview
      • Figure 5: Sports fandom, by sport, 2021
      • Figure 6: Sports fandom passion, 2021
    • Impact of COVID-19 on sports
  5. Target Audience – Profile of US Sports Fans

    • Who are sports fans?
      • Figure 7: Overall sports fandom, by gender, generation and race/Hispanic origin, 2021
    • Assessing the “superfan” base
      • Figure 8: US adult population aged 18+ sports fan and sports superfan breakdown, 2021
    • Who are superfans?
      • Figure 9: Profile of sports superfans, indexed to fans, by gender, generation and race/Hispanic origin, 2021
  6. Market Factors

    • Sustainability efforts remain a priority for the sports world
      • Figure 10: Castrol and NFL Rams environmentally focused partnership, 2021
    • Technology revolutionizes fans’ return to in-person sporting events
      • Figure 11: Impact of COVID-19 on sports fandom, by generation, 2021
    • Mobile tickets leads to enhanced experience
    • Concessions innovation increases convenience
    • Sports must continue to support social issues
      • Figure 12: Social awareness in sports, by gender and generation, 2021
      • Figure 13: Interest in charitable initiatives, by generation, 2021
  7. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Drive to Survive fuels F1’s US growth
    • Women’s sports ripe for further brand investment
    • Expect more themed broadcasts to connect with new audiences
  8. Competitive Strategies

    • Amazon invests heavily in sports, poised to continue
    • Drive to Survive fuels F1’s US growth
      • Figure 14: Formula 1: Drive to Survive trailer, 2021
    • Sports Illustrated utilizes the power of its brand in new verticals
    • SI Tix partners with Venmo for flat fees
      • Figure 15: Sports Illustrated ticketing platform, 2021
    • SI relies on brand recognition while entering sports betting industry
  9. Market Opportunities

    • Women’s sports offer great investment opportunity for brands
    • Increasing brand support for women’s sports
      • Figure 16: Michelob Ultra support for women’s sports campaign, 2021
    • Greater visibility leads to greater fandom
      • Figure 17: Women’s sports coverage, by gender and generation, 2021
    • NFTs create new offerings and opportunities to engage fans
      • Figure 18: New sports merchandise, by gender and generation, 2021
    • NFTs offer innovations beyond digital trading cards
    • Expect more themed broadcasts to connect with new audiences
      • Figure 19: Themed sports broadcasts appeal, by gender and generation, 2021
      • Figure 20: Nickelodeon NFL broadcast, 2020
    • Themed broadcasts enable greater curation and brand integration
    • Utilize eCommerce and social media shopping to meet consumers where they are
      • Figure 21: Nissan at Home Heisman House integration, 2021
  10. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Fans rely on television the most, but digital methods to follow sports will continue to grow in importance
    • The sports halo effect burns bright
    • Give the fans what they want – more content
    • Ancillary games around sports enhance fan experience
  11. Exploring Sports Fans

    • Greater women’s sports investment can help close the gender fandom gap
      • Figure 22: Sports fandom, by sport, by gender, 2021
    • Gen Z fandom vital for the future of every sport
      • Figure 23: Sports fandom, by sport, by generation, 2021
    • Fans feel connections to athletes of similar cultural backgrounds
      • Figure 24: Sports fandom, by sport, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
      • Figure 25: Bubba Wallace history-making NASCAR win, 2021
    • Fandom correlates with increasing household income
      • Figure 26: Sports fandom, by sport, by household income, 2021
    • Children are vital to help appeal to the last sports fan holdouts
      • Figure 27: Barriers to sports fandom, 2021
  12. Following the Action on the Field

    • Television and digital provide brands with mass reach and multiple touchpoints for consumers
      • Figure 28: Methods for following sports, by generation, 2021
      • Figure 29: Preference for sports highlights over full games, by gender and by generation, 2021
    • Streaming services are growing and will offer more and more exclusive games
    • Embrace social media to connect with fans
      • Figure 30: Social media use while watching sports, by generation, 2021
      • Figure 31: Top three reasons for using social media to follow sports, 2021
      • Figure 32: Social media brand integration, 2021
  13. Cultivating Fandom

    • The sports halo effect illuminates opportunities
      • Figure 33: Sports halo effect, by gender and generation, 2021
      • Figure 34: Ajax commitment to fans, 2021
      • Figure 35: Sports halo effect impact on purchase behavior, by generation, 2021
    • Brands from all industries can utilize sports to engage with fans
      • Figure 36: Marketing in sports, by generation, 2021
    • Food and drink
      • Figure 37: Los Angeles Rams local chefs partnership, 2021
    • Clothing and entertainment
      • Figure 38: Marvel NFL apparel, 2021
    • Continue to develop additional sports content for fans
      • Figure 39: Desire for extra sports content, by generation, 2021
    • Fans crave more content
  14. Ancillary Games

    • The games around sports create new opportunities for brands
      • Figure 40: Ancillary games, by gender and generation, 2021
    • Video game brand integrations are on the rise
      • Figure 41: State Farm NBA 2K integration, 2021
    • Opportunity for adaptive advertising in sports video games
    • Tap into the fantasy sports content ecosystem
      • Figure 42: Austin Ekeler fantasy football show, 2021
    • Sports betting content will only become more commonplace
  15. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  16. Appendix – Consumer

      • Figure 43: Sports fandom, by sport, key demographics index, 2021

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