North American Pro Sports Score Loyal, Global Following

October 1, 2009

Analyses of both website visits and fan demographics for the largest professional sports leagues in North America revealed that football, baseball, basketball and hockey have significant followings both at home and abroad, and that the fans for each sport are both similar and different in significant ways.

An analysis by comScore, Inc. of US professional team sport web properties for July 2009 found that visitors to the online sites for the four largest leagues had notable local and global differences. The sites examined were those for Major League Baseball (MLB.com), the National Basketball Association (NBA.com), the National Football League (NFL.com? and the National Hockey League (NHL.com).

NBA Has Most Global Audience

The global visitor profiles for these four? sites revealed that NBA.com attracts the most global interest, with three of the five global regions tracked each accounting for at least 10% of its visitors. North America accounted for 53.0%, Asia Pacific, for 27.0%,? and Europe for 14.5%.

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Though Latin America and Middle East-Africa accounted for much smaller percentages, NBA.com attracted a higher share from these regions than the other sports leagues.

Additional details specific to sports website visitors:

  • The NFL has the most North American-centric visitor profile, which, comScore noted, is not surprising given that football is primarily an American sport.
  • Major League Baseball showed a high skew toward North American visitors, though it also attracted more than 6% of its visitors from the Asia-Pacific region.
  • While the NHL also drew most of its visitors from North America (split between the US and Canada), Europe accounted for 9.4% of that site’s audience.

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Sports League Sites Attract Higher Incomes within US

comScore also found that the US? demographic profile of visitors to the four professional-sports-league sites showed significant age and household income skews:

  • The NHL exhibited the most notable skew toward the highest income households, with 56.4%of its audience earning at least $75K annually,? and 36.0% earning at least $100K.
  • Relative to the total US internet population, each of the other sports leagues had above-average share of audience from the $75K+ segment: MLB (53.2%), NFL (46.8%), and the NBA (45.8%), compared with 41.4% for the total online audience.
  • In terms of age, MLB had the highest percentage of visitors ages 45+ (35.5%), while the NBA had the highest percentage of visitors under age 35 (47.6%).

To coincide with the beginning of football season in the US, recent analyses of the top web properties for August 2009 by both comScore and Compete.com found that the NFL’s website was among the fastest-gaining sites? during the month.

Experian Simmons Data on Pro Sports Fans

In addition to the sports-site visitor analysis conducted by comScore, Experian Simmons also reported demographic and attitudinal data about professional sports fans in the US, specifically related to fans of the NBA, MLB and the NFL.

Key findings:

  • MLB and NFL fans are slightly more likely than the average adult, and the NBA fan, to be White.?

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  • NBA fans skew slightly more African American than the average adult or the other major sports fans.
  • About 13% of the total adult population of sports fans? identify themselves as Hispanic.
  • Nearly 10% of NBA fans are Hispanic, while 8% of MLB fans and 7% of NFL fans identify themselves as Hispanic
  • Compared with the general adult population, Hispanic consumers are bigger fans of soccer and more interested in that sport than other professional sports.
  • ?MLB fans are the oldest fans, and NBA fans are the youngest.
  • The largest number of sports fans are in the 45-54 age range.
  • Female sports fans are more likely to notice products used in TV programs and are more open to product placement than the average adult.

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  • More sports fans report watching Sportscenter than Around the Horn or Pardon the Interruption, particularly? NBA Fans.? NBA Fans also are more likely to watch all three programs compared with the average adult or other sports-fan groups.

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  • In addition to watching their favorite sport, sports fans also are more likely to a play or participate in that sport as well.
  • NBA Fans are more likely to play all three major sports (basketball, baseball, football) than the other fan groups, indicating they are perhaps more active and athletic than MLB and NFL fans.
  • ?NBA fans are more likely to have purchased a football in the last 12 months than NFL fans, again indicating their more active lifestyle particularly in playing football as well as basketball.
  • Perhaps because of this sports participation, physical therapists rank as the top professional visited among all three fan groups, while use of pain relievers for muscle or body aches is higher than average for all three sports-fan groups.
  • NBA Fans show a greater propensity than other fan groups to consume 10 or more sports drinks per mont, while MLB fans consume smaller amounts of sports drinks (4 or less per month) compared with other fan groups.
  • NFL Fans are more likely to “very interested” in the NFL than the other sports fan groups are to be very interested in their sports.
  • NFL Fans are more likely to watch their sport of choice on TV frequently than other sports fan groups are to watch their favorite sports.
  • MLB Fans are more likely to attend baseball games than NBA Fans are to attend basketball games or NFL Fans to attend pro football games.? This may be related to the fact that there are more available Major League Baseball games to attend compared with NBA or NFL games, Experian Simmons noted.

The research also found that all three fan groups share similar attitudes and opinions:? they are all more likely to be interested in the world around them, active, career focused and optimistic:

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All three groups also are less likely to feel they can’t change their lives, feel alone in the world or place friends over family.

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