For decades, broadcast and cable television have dominated the sports viewership landscape. However, changing behavior among Gen Z and millennial sports fans is putting pressure on the traditional business models of teams, leagues, advertisers, and sponsors. At its core, the challenge that sports television finds itself in is not a “sports” problem at all. Rather the issue is that young people are watching fewer hours of traditional TV (sports and non-sports) than their older counterparts. Not surprisingly, the time young consumers once spent watching traditional television is now transitioning to streaming media and engaging on social media.
But the sports-specific television behaviors and attitudes of young fans are particularly eye-opening. Consider the Bloomberg Gadfly study that indicates:
- 18-24 year olds show the least enthusiasm for watching sports among all demographics.
- Young people express more enthusiasm for genres like comedy, Sci-Fi, and action than they do for sports.
- Internationally, young millennials in western countries showed less interest in sports than the average for their home nation.
The decline in sports viewership among youth may prove to have long-term consequences. According to the L.E.K. Sports Survey, watching sports on TV as kids is a key reason that people become fans in the first place and continue to be passionate about sports into adulthood.