Sports Trends: A Younger Demographic and a New Phase in Sports Viewing? – Essay

Sports remains a popular TV pastime, but more young people are turning away from watching full-length games and toward accessing quick highlights and stats. This comes at the heels of a debacle involving Colin Kaepernick and kneeling during the national anthem at a NFL game. The following paper will examine recent sports stats, demographic trends as well as the connection between social media viewing and sports, and make observations about the relationship between changing media and demographic trends.

According to Lombardo & Broughton, sports viewers are getting older, while the younger generation prefers to access content from a variety of digital platforms, becoming less interested in traditional TV. Leagues are challenged with remaining relevant for younger audiences. For the most part, there is more of an interest in briefly glancing at quick stats and highlights, rather than viewing entire games on TV. Mayna Global USA says that the fast availability of stats has detracted viewers for ‘sticking around’ for the whole game, when they can view stats. Most young people like to watch YouTube or Netflix, and stay away from the TV (Lombardo, John, and David Broughton).

As for the two highest demographics, the Nielsen study of sports ratings suggests that millennial ethnics and the older generation are their top targets. Most of the viewers interested in watching sports are currently under the age of 18, and many tend to be from multicultural backgrounds. This may occur because of traditions taken from the household, such as playing soccer and basketball. Generally, older viewers between the ages of 40 and 60 will watch sports, whether it is on TV or in live shows. The Nielsen study says it must try to target the 35-years demographic as its primary goal (Lombardo, John, and David Broughton).

I was surprised that action sports, NHL and WNBA were reduced for the 2016 / 2017 year. I would have expected a surge of interest in the Me Too movement and modern feminism to also bring up WNBA ratings. As well, action sports tend to be popular among young people, so it can be a bit surprising to see that they are losing popularity. As for the NHL, I was simply surprised because hockey is an all-time favorite among many American viewers. I was surprised to see that the NHL is currently losing ratings.

The audience measurement research is an important tool for discovering what the general public want to consume in terms of sports. To be honest, I was not entirely surprised that most young people are turning to quick highlights, e-sports and digital platforms to consume sports content, as this is becoming a more popular and convenient way of accessing videos. An interesting story involves Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled during the NFL games to protest racial discrimination in the US (Disis). I did not expect young people to have such a negative reaction to this event, even going so far as to boycott Nike for using Kaepernick as a poster boy.


There is also an interesting correlation between sports viewing and shifting political views. For instance, after the Kaepernick kneeling ordeal, Nike decided to use Kaepernick as the head image for their brand. This led to Conservatives in the US boycotting Nike (Pallota). With the participation of Donald Trump commenting on the event as well as the new law establishing kneeling during games as illegal, the NFL was practically doomed. Fans had enough when they saw Kaepernick’s face plastered all over Nike (Pallota). In this sense, audience measurement research was able to make the connection between dropping NFL ratings and this situation.

We have to take a broader approach, because social media and other digital viewing do play an important role in establishing a sport’s popularity. Nielsen’s The Year in Sports Media Report: 2016 outlines that e-Sports is an evolving and ever-growing field (Nielsen). E-Sports, also called competitive gaming, is an interactive and engaging experience, whereby games like Call of Duty or Madden NFL are played live, in arcade-like arenas. If, for instance, we see that Madden NFL is becoming popular as an E-Sport that is an indication that, perhaps, interest in the NFL may go up as well.

On the other hand, we do see a discrepancy between viewing activity and social media and digital use. For instance, while young people prefer to click on quick stats and highlights for certain sports, this does not necessarily correlate to an increase in sports viewing rates. Sports viewing rates in the younger generation (between 30 and 40) are generally decreasing, while it has been shown that their interest in accessing statistics is not. Thus, accessing these statistics and highlights is not a successful measure of whether actual full-length sports games will be watched on TV.

Age is likely the most important demographic category, with ethnicity trailing in second place. I believe age is important because younger people tend toward more digital modes of consumption, such as through Smart Phones, apps and other wireless use. Therefore, it is important for sports programs and owners to gauge whether their demographic is younger or older, so as to appropriately cater the way sports are distributed across audiences. For instance, if the demographic turns out to be younger, sports companies can cater to this by developing more digital and interactive content. Read the essay sample from professional writer service.

In conclusion, there is no way to satisfy all customers, but trends are showing that young people prefer more interactive and mobile experiences, and have veered away from sitting down to full-length games. Sportscasters and companies need to be sensitive to viewers’ changing preferences, or else they risk becoming dinosaurs in their own museums.

Related Articles