Just under half (46%) of 13-18-year-olds in the US express an interest in the Olympics, including just 27% who are extremely or very interested, according to a Harris Interactive Youth Center of Excellence study conducted before the Games began.
Older teen boys (age 16-18) had the greatest interest and were the only age group more than half of which was interested in the sporting event:
Teens overall are a larger audience for the Olympics than tweens (age 8-12), only 28% of whom report interest.
“Marketers and advertisers may think that teens are a natural constituency for the Games, since many of the Olympic competitors are the same age. Our findings, however, indicate that the Olympics have not yet captured the majority of hearts and minds of today’s teens in the US,” said Dana Markow, PhD, VP senior consultant, Harris Interactive Youth Center of Excellence.
Overall, teens say they are most interested in following swimming (40%), gymnastics (38%) and track and field (33%).
However, the top three favorite Olympic sporting events are somewhat different for girls and boys:
- Boys are interested in watching or reading most about track and field (35%), swimming (34%), and basketball (34%).
- Gymnastics, on the other hand, holds the attention of teen girls, with over half (56%) most interested in following it, followed by swimming (46%), and diving (35%).
TV will be the primary medium for teens to follow the Olympics this summer: Six in ten (59%) say that they plan to watch Olympics sporting events on TV.
A far smaller number of teens are interested in reading about (22%) or watching (14%) Olympic sporting events online. Similar to an overall interest in the Olympics, plans to follow the Games online increases significantly with age – consistent with the trend for youth to spend an increasing amount of time online as they get older.
Most teens agree that the Olympics are more than a sport competition – that they aim to bring the world together. Almost two-thirds (62%) agree that the Olympics help to build a better and more peaceful world, four times the amount who disagree (16%).
Teens who say they are interested in the Olympics are even more likely to agree that the Games are about more than merely medals and marketing (71%).
About the study: Harris Interactive fielded the study (pdf) July 16-24, 2008, via its YouthQuery online omnibus service, interviewing a nationwide sample of 1,353 US 8-18-year-olds, including 815 13-18-year-olds. Data for 8-17-year-old results were weighted to be representative of the total US 8-17-year-old population on the basis of age, gender, education, parental education, race/ethnicity, region, and “urbanicity.” Data for 18-year-old results were weighted to be representative of the total US 18-year-old population on the basis of age, gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and region.