Sports enthusiasts, particularly Super Bowl supporters, are frequently enthusiastic about the teams they support.

They support the team by purchasing branded jerseys, blankets, seat cushions, cups, and other products, and they like seeing their favorite athletes and teams highlighted in advertisements.

Advertisers and marketers craved and sought these fans. However, older, traditional sports fans differ from younger, more modern supporters.

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“Younger sports fans are more likely than sports fans overall to say that ad-free content is important to them, but they are also more likely to say they’re interested in buying products and services that support their favorite teams,” says Caroline McCarthy, vice president of marketing at Infillion, an advertising-technology company. “Or that they like seeing their favorite teams and athletes in ads.”

McCarthy stated that this serves as a signal to advertisers, particularly when it comes to attracting millennial and Generation Z sports enthusiasts. She adds that it is all about communicating a brand’s message.

“Interruptive ads aren’t the answer,” McCarthy adds. “Finding ways to lighten ad loads or to directly incorporate a brand creative into a live game experience can help advertisers connect with sports fans in a way that ties directly into their love of the game.”

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Infillion collaborated with Lucid, a Cint Group company focused on measurement and metrics, to assess trends in shifting sports fan behavior and attitudes. The two companies conducted the survey between December 11, 2023 and December 18, 2023, with 979 persons responding (51% female and 49% male).

The study, which is set to be released this week, finds that males are more likely to identify as diehard fans, while girls are more likely to consider themselves enthusiastic fans.

According to the research, sports lovers consume a wide range of information. Even die-hard fans spend a significant amount of time consuming non-sports content each week.

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Sports fans spend an average of 12.6 hours each week watching sports, movies, and other types of entertainment and news across all platforms, devices, and live environments. Hardcore sports lovers spend 13.9 hours per week watching the same kind of stuff. Fifty-six percent of die-hard sports enthusiasts spend more than four hours a week viewing movies and television.

The NFL is clearly the most popular among sports lovers. When asked to name the traditional professional and college sports they are most interested in, 73% cited NFL football, followed by MLB baseball (45%), NBA basketball (43%), college football (42%), men’s college basketball (34%), WNBA (26%), women’s softball (26%), NHL hockey (22%), women’s soccer (21%), and men’s soccer (20%).

According to the study, Gen Z is becoming increasingly interested in developing sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA), which ranked as one of the top sports for younger fans, with 35% stating they love watching them. They frequently follow UFC and MMA stars who have become TikTok celebrities, and vice versa.

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Infillion’s analysis identified five distinct sports:

Soccer stars, from Lionel Messi to Megan Rapinoe, have become household names in the United States, and according to the research, both men’s and women’s soccer are as popular as NHL hockey.

Women’s Volleyball: With 32% of sports fans indicating they love watching women’s volleyball, it was by far the most popular female sport in this survey.

Combat Sports: Famous fighters, who frequently appear on TikTok, have driven UFC and MMA to prominence among young viewers. Aside from NFL football and NBA basketball, it was the most popular sport among Generation Z.

Cricket: Gen Z respondents were twice as likely as fans overall to say they love watching cricket, making this soon-to-be Olympic sport a must-see for young viewers.

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Motorsports: Drive to Survive, a popular Netflix series about Formula One racing, has revived the traditionally Eurocentric car series among Americans. Motorsports were more popular among millennials and Generation Z than golf and tennis, according to our survey.

For many people, streaming has become the primary means of watching sports. NFL Sunday Ticket, a subscription that allows fans to watch games outside of their media market, moved from DirecTV to YouTube. Thursday Night Football is now available on Amazon Prime Video, and the NBCUniversal-owned Peacock has positioned itself as a hub for live and on-demand sports entertainment, particularly the Olympics and professional soccer.

Forty-six percent of sports fans polled claimed they watch more sports on streaming than they did before 2020. While people view sports content on a range of streaming devices, 82% prefer to watch it on television, compared to 77% of all sports fans.

Sports fans prioritize specific features of streaming, with 88% stating that pricing is an important concern. The top five features are movie and show selection, access to favorite sports shows, ad-free options, and news access. Access to sports commentary and analytics, as well as historical games and contests, were provided.

Only 29% of sports fans have cancelled a streaming subscription due to a change in the live sports options. When broken down by demographics, 47% of Gen Z were the most likely to cancel a subscription due to changes.