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Volume 20 No. 42
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How fans watch sports


Other than football fans, fewer than half the fans who said they watched at least one sports event in the past year actually watched the entire game, according to data provided to SportsBusiness Journal by Nielsen. Nielsen Sports 360 last year conducted a behavioral study of more than 3,000 sports fans age 13 and older. Nielsen conducted an additional oversample survey exclusively among teens (sample size equals 324) and millennials (1,054).


Teenagers and millennials are more likely to be watching the sport in the background while doing something else, such as doing chores, talking with family and friends, or browsing online.

CEO, Bespoke Sports & Entertainment

SUGGESTION: Custom audio streams
“Through the at-home game viewing experience, we’ve grown accustomed to knowing what’s going on at all times, which is tough to replicate when you’re at an event. You have to monitor your Twitter feed to learn about injuries, watch the scoreboard to find out how many yards someone gained, or open an app to find out who’s in foul trouble. It’s made the live game experience stale for a generation that is used to on-demand information. Yes, there are radio feeds but the audio often doesn’t match up with game action and, when it does, radio can be overly communicative due to its nature. I don’t want to be told which team is going right to left, especially when I’m on the opposite side of the press box.

“Teams and events need custom audio streams that create a new listening experience modeled after the ESPN Megacasts. There need to be feeds fed with detailed breakdowns from coaches, homer analysis, live locker room look-ins, etc. And the on-field audio needs to be augmented with more, higher quality on-field mikes to take the sounds of the action past the first few rows and up to the cheap seats.”



Millennials use several social networks regularly, with Facebook commanding the lead in both audience size and engagement. After Facebook, Snapchat has the highest engagement per visitor among millennials, just slightly ahead of Instagram, which is second in terms of penetration. Millennials overall have a more diverse diet of social media platforms they engage with on a regular basis.


Executive vice president, Nielsen Sports North America

“What could make traditional sports more relevant? … Eliminate the hand-wringing of replays and booth reviews and other competitive pausing — this is not chess, it’s sports. Every moment needs to matter, and it can’t be a gimmick.”

Creative director, Octagon

“Let’s work with official apparel brands, sponsors, unions and other key stakeholders to give players the freedom to modify and customize their gear if they have a particular message, style or cause they want to wear on their sleeve or sock or cleat.”

Owner, Tampa Bay Rays

“I’m a traditional guy, but when I think of traditional I think sort of old-time baseball and what made the game great which is fly balls coming down in the gaps, ground balls being picked up like Ozzie Smith. Plays … not just walks and strikeouts.”