How Fans are Keeping Up with Sports

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News and media outlets seem to bombard their audiences from every angle seemingly imaginable. Every time we log on to social media or turn on the TV, companies and political figures instantaneously warrant our attention.

This is no different for the sports industry.

Often, people who don’t care about the results of a nail-biting game are forced into seeing or hearing a winning touchdown. Updates are available in realtime format, thanks to push notifications offered by TV stations, news outlets, and magazine publications.  

The sports industry has called for sports networks to maintain a constant presence front and center on every mainstream media outlet. As such, it is interesting to understand what outlets sports fans are using the most.

Some of these channels fluctuate in popularity while others remain stagnant in their reputation. To gather accurate and informative data, results were taken and analyzed from a national survey report, called Voice of the American Fan, which is dedicated to understanding the tendencies and opinions of the American sports fan. The survey asked individuals how often they use various methods to follow their favorite sport. Results were separated into three types of sports fans: neutral fans, fans who likes sports pretty well, and extreme sports fans. Answers were specified by levels of interest: never, occasionally, often, and all the time.  

Live TV and Sports

Watching a game, race, or match on TV prevailed as the most popular method for following sports. Seventy-eight percent of extreme sports fans watch their favorite sports on TV “all the time,” which is more than other, less-devoted sports fans. There are many reasons why watching sports on TV remains so popular. Because of its popular fan base, there are multiple television networks devoted to providing the latest update on a game. Walk into any bar or restaurant and you will usually see a plethora of hockey, baseball, and football games on the TVs. Because of its popularity, it is common for fans to gather in quantities of more than three to watch a game or pre-scheduled match.

Sports Talk Shows

Another popular method for keeping up with sports among extreme sports fans, and somewhat popular among fans who like sports pretty well, is watching sports shows on TV. This method is popular for fans who like to analyze the result of a game or match by listening to the opinions and information offered by the hosts of these shows. It is simple and cost-free to turn on the TV to a sports show and follow along. In addition to watching sports shows, extreme sports fans and fans who like sports pretty well, also enjoy talking with friends about sports. Interestingly, this method is not popular among fans who consider themselves to be neutral about sports.

Sports Publications & Social Media

Two other methods which are not quite as popular as those mentioned above, but continue to generate a notable amount of interest from fans, are sports publications and social media. These methods capture the attention mostly from extreme sports fans and fans who like sports pretty well. Fans who consider themselves neutral do not have much interest in these methods. However, as the rise of social media continues, it is no surprise that fans are increasingly following sports through social media. The sports industry is taking advantage of its strong platform opportunities on media sites by posting results, starting conversations between fans, and streaming games and sports shows live on these sites. It is likely that the amount of sports content on social media will only grow as the world becomes more connected.   

Decreasing Popularity: Game Attendance & Radio

There are a few unconventional methods that fans do not regularly use to follow sports. Due to the price and time it takes to attend a live event, most sports fans are tuning in to the match via digitally, or by means of social media. Around 46 percent of each type of fan indicated that they only occasionally attend the sporting event live. While this may seem vague, it was the only media channel in which all types of sports fans agreed in their answer, which leads us to believe that there are outside factors affecting all individuals; consider price, time, or weather, that would lead a fan to attend a game less frequently.

These results provide small insight into the mind of a sports fan and helps explain where fans’ interests prioritize. It’s important to note that other methods are also still popular beyond TV, such as sports shows, social media, talking with friends, and sports publications. So, it will be most beneficial for marketers to gear their ads and information towards fans who are invested in sports. Understanding where fans spend their time the most will help businesses most accurately inform fans about news revolving around the sports industry.


For the Love of the Game

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In the sports industry, a fan’s personal background has a large impact on the type of fan they will become. There are many reasons why individuals become sports fans: including a fan’s level of interest in a sport, a fan’s favorite sport, and a fan’s interest in participating in a sport.

Family + Friend Influencers

A fan’s surroundings play a key role in influencing the type of fan he or she is. For example, family and friends often inspire others to become more interested in sports, hosting watch parties and tailgating together. A study from a national survey report, called Voice of the American Fan, analyzed these factors to gain knowledge about the status of sports fans. Specifically, this study was used to determine the specific effects family and friends’ involvement in sports has on a sports fan, as well as individual factors that play into one’s level of interest in sports.

Fans with parents who have a passion for sports are the most likely group to be die-hard sports fans. Fans who became involved in participating in a sport themselves are next likely to be die-hard-sports-fans. Furthermore, those were who were inspired to follow sports because of their family or friends’ participation in sports or because they began playing a sport themselves are the most likely to currently play a sport.

Football + Family Tradition

Those who were inspired to follow sports due to family traditions were the most likely to indicate that their favorite sport is football. It is reasonable to assume that a key element that plays into this statistic is that football is the most popular sport in the world. It is common for families to gather together on the weekends to cook out and watch a game of football. The Super Bowl is a particularly popular event for family and friends to hold parties and gatherings.

Team + Player Loyalty

One of the most striking results that was found during the research involved one’s loyalty to a specific player or team. Those who were inspired to follow sports due to family or friends’ interest, passion, participation, or tradition were more likely to associate with one team or player per sport than those who were inspired due to individual reasons, such as seeing the sport live. In fact, an average of 44 percent of respondents began following sports because of family or friends associate with only one team or player per sport, compared to an average of 29 percent of individuals who began following sports due to individual reasons associate.

Inspiration vs. Age

It is also interesting to follow the trend between inspiration for following sports and age at which he or she began following sports. Sixty-eight percent of respondents who were inspired to follow sports because of their parents’ passion for a sport began following sports at age ten, while 54 percent of those who began following because they started playing a sport started following at age ten—53 percent of those who began following because it was always part of a family tradition began following sports at age ten or younger. Other reasons for following a sport generated a less-than-majority consensus.

It is crucial to remain updated and informed about sports fans’ beliefs and desires regarding their favorite sport. Recently there have been changes in the sports industry that have led to fans’ interest evolving. For this reason, it is helpful to understand fans’ current values and also other, less obvious details about a sports fan, such as the inspiration behind one’s interest in sports. This investigative mindset can lead to discoveries that would have otherwise been unknown and undervalued and can ensure that fans’ true interests are not overshadowed.