It’s a common misconception that the changes we’re seeing in terms of sports consumption are driven by millennials. Many put declining television ratings and the shortening of attention spans down to this group, but evidence suggests it’s not as simple as that.
We often hear statements such as “millennials can’t afford a cable subscription” or “millennials just can’t be that interested in sport.” But neither of those things are true. According to Nielsen (cited by McKinsey), 78% of millennials have access to satellite television services at home. And, when you include online streaming figures, they consume more sport than older generations.
The shift isn’t age-related
Taken from the same McKinsey article, research conducted by Nielsen shows that millennials and consumers from ‘generation x’ have similar digital consumption levels. The reason that sports brands are losing their television audiences isn’t down to age, it’s due to more desirable content (in terms of format) being made readily available to them on other, easily accessible channels.
What do sports fans want
A recently produced Imagen report explores this in more detail, beginning to shed some light on why consumers are turning their attention elsewhere. The Guardian also conducted a survey of its (largely non-millennial) readers to ask them about their viewing habits, with interesting results:
“There are fantastic free streams out there and I doubt anyone feels any guilt in using these rather than paying the same price as a season ticket to watch live games on TV. Even my 78-year old father streams his games now.”
“I occasionally use streams but wouldn’t pay for it. After being obsessed for many years, I reached my mid-forties and just slid away from the televised product. The hype just doesn’t do it for me anymore, and I find it hard to concentrate on a 90-minute game on the TV.”
“Big increases in quality and duration of game highlights in the last few years have made live football seem slightly tedious and boring. Highlights cut out the frustrating aspects of football such as time-wasting and dead periods when nothing of note happens.”
The opportunity for sports businesses
Despite the slightly negative tone, the modern-day sports fan is far from a lost cause. They simply need to feel like things are good value for money, and to be kept interested by the channels and forms of content that they engage with.
If you think about it, these changes mean that sports fans should have more disposable income; there’s an opportunity to present them with ways to spend their hard-earned cash providing they feel that they’re getting value from you. Exclusive footage, near-live updates, and content without ‘the frustrating aspects’ as the Guardian reader put it.
Get these fans onside and they’ll be happy to invest in reasonable online subscriptions, merchandise or even tickets to the odd game. They still like sports, they just want value.
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