Marketing to Sports Fans - US - July 2016


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Mintel

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Professional football leads the pack as the most popular American sport, followed by baseball and basketball. Avid Fans often follow all three (or more) traditional sports and keep up with their favorite teams by watching sports news, reading articles online, and even scanning the local paper. Whichever channel fans choose to keep up with the sports world, news stories about the safety of players, doping scandals, and bad behavior of athletes may negatively affect their perceptions of professional leagues.

Table of Content

Overview

What you need to know
Definition

Executive Summary

The issues
More than two thirds of Avid Fans follow multiple sports
Figure 1: Number of sports followed by Avid Fans, May 2016
Future fandom driven by early participation
Figure 2: Motivations to follow sports – History, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, May 2016
Football dominates sports culture, but there is a decline in youth participation
Figure 3: Kids’ participation in popular sports, January 2009-December 2015
The opportunities
Women could be an incremental audience for fantasy sports
Figure 4: Sports engagement, by gender, May 2016
Professional leagues can improve perceptions among fans and non-fans
Figure 5: Perceptions of sports leagues, select attributes, May 2016
New media channels have low penetration even among Avid Fans
Figure 6: Keeping up with sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, May 2016
What it means

The Market – What You Need to Know

US sports bring in more than $27 billion in annual revenues
Avid Fans are typically young, White, males
Sporting goods market is strong, but some chains fail to compete
Fantasy sports grow in unlikely areas
Youth sports participation declines, but kids are still fans
A strong economy boosts leisure spending

Market Size – Major Sports Leagues

Major sports leagues in the US reap more than $27 billion annually
Figure 7: Revenues of major US sports leagues ($ billions), 2013-14 season

Key Demographics of Avid Sports Fans

Avid football fans reflect the demographics of average Americans
Figure 8: Profile of avid NFL fans, indexed to all Avid Fans, by key demographics, May 2016
Baseball wins with families
Figure 9: Profile of avid MLB fans, indexed to all Avid Fans, by key demographics, May 2016
Young fans gravitate toward basketball
Figure 10: Profile of avid NBA fans, indexed to all Avid Fans, by key demographics, May 2016
American soccer fans are young and affluent
Figure 11: Profile of avid soccer fans, indexed to all Avid Fans, by key demographics, May 2016

Market Perspective

Sports Authority loses footing amid $44 billion sporting goods market
Figure 12: Estimated annual sporting goods stores retail sales, 2005-13
Fantasy sports leagues expand into new areas
The NFL soars in popularity, but kids less likely to be devoted players
Figure 13: Kids’ participation in popular sports, January 2009-December 2015
Slight decline in licensed gear among kids, but NFL apparel continues to be popular
Figure 14: Kids’ ownership of licensed college/professional sports apparel, January 2009-December 2015
Figure 15: Kids’ ownership of licensed college/professional sports apparel, by sport, January 2009-December 2015

Market Factors

Economic stability can boost recreational spending
Figure 16: Perceptions of financial health, 2013-16
Experiential spending provides personal satisfaction
Figure 17: Perceived change in spending – Spending more, by category, 2016 versus 2013

Key Trends – What You Need to Know

Sport marketers go beyond TV
Stadium amenities aim to please
Golf participation and viewership flags
Brazil faces Olympic-sized challenges
Female fans may be hard to gain in light of bad PR
Daily fantasy sports face legal battles
NFL admits link to CTE, only after settlement is reached
Alternative sports may convert non-fans

What’s Working?

Marketers create breakthrough ads to engage fans
Stadium amenities turn up the dial on the fan experience
Social platforms create dedicated spaces for Sports Fans

What’s Not Working?

Golf participation is down, and TV ratings have followed
Figure 18: Adults who participate in golf, February 2009-March 2016
Figure 19: Masters final round TV audience (millions of viewers), 2007-16
Drug scandals, Zika concerns, and safety issues threaten the success of 2016 Summer Olympics
Will watching sports impact the health of fans?
Misogynistic sports stories float to the surface in 2016
Fantasy leagues face restrictive legislation
High-priced sports packages may lead more to cut the cord
CTE threatens the future of football

What’s Next?

Fans turn to alternative sports for something new and different
“Moneyball” strategy influences more than just MLB
Stadiums get smarter
Some Rio events to be broadcast in virtual reality

The Consumer – What You Need to Know

Avid Fans watch all the sports
Football continues to dominate
Let’s go. While we’re young.
Fans watch sports news to keep current
Avid Fans demonstrate more “fanatical” behaviors
Pro leagues may want to polish their images
Athletes can step-up as role models

Sports Followed

An avid fan of one sport, is an avid fan of many sports
Figure 20: Number of sports followed by Avid Fans, May 2016
Professional football reigns
Figure 21: Sports followed, May 2016
As expected, men over index as sports lovers
Figure 22: Sports followed, by gender, May 2016
College sports are for more than just students
Figure 23: Sports followed, by age, May 2016
Hispanics are interested in fútbol, but also football
Figure 24: Sports followed, by Hispanic origin, May 2016
Olympic sports and combat sports draw crowds
Figure 25: Other sports followed, by frequency of write-in entry, May 2016

What Drives Fandom?

A history of sports engagement drives future followers
Figure 26: Motivations to follow sports – History and entertainment May 2016
Non-fans are not entertained
Figure 27: Barriers to following sports, May 2016
Some fans driven by pride, or connecting with their past
Figure 28: Motivations to follow sports – Connection and pride, May 2016
Women more attracted to the entertainment aspect of sports
Figure 29: Motivations to follow sports, by gender, May 2016
White Sports Fans feel closely connected with teams
Figure 30: Motivations to follow sports, by race, May 2016
Connecting with friends motivates young Sports Fans
Figure 31: Motivations to follow sports – Connecting with friends, by age, May 2016
Fans of all ages enjoy the strategy behind the game
Figure 32: Motivations to follow sports – Strategy, by age, May 2016

How Fans Keep Up with Sports, Teams, and Players

Traditional media keeps Sports Fans in the know
Figure 33: Keeping up with sports, by Sports Fans and Avid Fans, May 2016
Older fans read the newspaper, but not magazines
Figure 34: Keeping up with sports – Paper sources, by age, May 2016
Women less likely to actively keep up with sports news
Figure 35: Keeping up with sports, by gender, May 2016
Hispanic Sports Fans use digital means to follow their teams
Figure 36: Keeping up with sports – Digital sources, by Hispanic origin, May 2016
Sports fans of all races use sports news as a main resource
Figure 37: Keeping up with sports – Popular sources, by race, May 2016

Engagement with Sports

Most fans keep it casual
Figure 38: Sports engagement, May 2016
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who are the biggest Sports Fans of all?
Figure 39: Perception of being an above-average sports fan, by sports followed by Avid Fans, May 2016
A quarter of fans are interested in sports stats
Figure 40: Sports engagement – Statistics and gambling, May 2016
Women less likely to be “super fans”
Figure 41: Sports engagement – Statistics and gambling, by gender, May 2016
Young fans devote their time to sports-related activities
Figure 42: Sports engagement – Fanatic behaviors, by age, May 2016
Northeasterners believe they are the biggest fans
Figure 43: Perception of being an above-average sports fan, by region, May 2016
Black Sports Fans less likely to believe they are “bigger fans than most”
Figure 44: Sports engagement – Fan behaviors, by race, May 2016

Perceptions of Leagues

Perceived strengths and weaknesses of professional leagues
Methodology
Figure 45: Correspondence Analysis – Perceptions of professional sports leagues, May 2016
College sports decidedly affordable and appealing to young fans
Figure 46: Correspondence Analysis – Perceptions of professional versus college sports, May 2016
Figure 47: Perceptions of sports leagues, May 2016

Attitudes of Sports Fans

Sports fans split on league issues
Figure 48: Attitudes toward sports issues, May 2016
All ages urge professional teams to take a stand
Figure 49: Attitudes of Sports Fans - Controversial issues, by age, May 2016
Sports Fans perceive leagues in a more positive light than Non-fans
Figure 50: Attitudes toward sports league player treatment, by Sports Fans and Non-fans, May 2016
Hispanic fans see the virtue in professional athletes
Figure 51: Attitudes of Sports Fans, by Hispanic origin, May 2016
Fans aged 25-44 are key purchasers for team-related gear
Figure 52: Attitudes of Sports Fans toward ownership of team apparel, by key demographics, May 2016

Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

Data sources
Consumer survey data
Consumer qualitative research
Abbreviations and terms
Abbreviations

Appendix – Market

Figure 53: Revenues of major sporting leagues, 2013-14 season
Figure 54: Kids’ participation in popular sports, January 2009-December 2015
Figure 55: Kids’ ownership of licensed college/professional sports apparel, by sport, January 2009-December 2015
Figure 56: Kids’ ownership of licensed college/ professional sports apparel, January 2009-December 2015

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