How we engage and watch sports has changed dramatically. The proliferation of non-traditional media channels, amplified by digital adoption, has hugely changed the global sports media landscape. Sports rights holders, organisations and content producers all want to maximize their revenue potential, and many are exploring content formats and styles that can attract new audiences and align with their changing preferences and needs.

Global sports media report scope

YouGov’s report sets out to understand how consumption of sports content is changing and how sports organizations need to adapt to keep up with changing media behaviour. They explore the demand for live programming, and sports content relating to live events such as highlights, interviews, and announcements. They also assess the appetite for sports lifestyle-focused content such as docuseries and behind-the-scenes documentaries. In addition, they examine the vast array of platforms and touchpoints that sports fans are connecting with and highlight opportunities for rights holders and brands to attract new audiences and widen their fan base.

Key sports media takeaways

Fan engagement is high

Fan engagement with sports has changed dramatically, evolving from watching on traditional linear television to streaming services. Following sports on social media. The accessibility of content via mobile devices enables fans to connect and interact with sports anytime and anywhere. While two-thirds globally have engaged with sports content across various platforms, 18-24-year-olds and males are hyper-engaged, with content consumption increasing to three quarters.

TV maintains its global stronghold in sports media

In an ever-changing media landscape, watching live sports on TV ranks as the most popular way to engage with sports globally, but popularity is higher among older age groups.

Younger fans prefer digital over traditional sports media

Social media ranks as the top way 18–34-year-olds engage with sports, and they over-index on other digital platforms such as online, via streaming services or video games.

Social media leads in Asia

Despite the global dominance of live TV for sports, in Asia, social media is the primary choice for consuming sports content across all markets, driven by high social media penetrations and younger populations.

Bite-size content is more popular in younger age groups

Short-form content to catch up with the latest events, pre-game interviews, and game stats and analysis is the format of choice for younger Engaged Sports Fans consumers. The 18–24-year-old category is the only age group where the preference for clips or highlights is higher than watching live games in their entirety.

Sports subscriptions increase the volume of sports consumed

Of the fifth that subscribe to a streaming platform or service to gain access to exclusive sports content, their subscription is encouraging them to watch more. Seven in ten report that with a subscription offering exclusive sports content, they are more likely to watch sports.

The sports lifestyle content net continues to widen

The rise of subscription services has helped widen the audience of sports content and stimulate investment in new sports formats. Documentaries such as ‘Drive to Survive’ can expand reach by appealing to more female consumers, and even those with little or no interest in F1. This widens the net for sports organizations, teams, and athletes to build their brands and connect with a new fanbase. As the sports content ecosystem evolves, it will be important for sports organizations to understand and recognize the changing expectations and interactions that consumers have with different platforms and content formats and identify the best ways to engage with them.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the most popular sports media?

TV is the most popular sports platform, but popularity is higher among older age groups. Younger fans prefer online, streaming services, and/or video games.

What are three types of media in sports?

The three main types of media platforms are TV, online (e.g. websites, social media, streaming services), and print media.

Which sport has the most viewers?

Football is the most globally consumed sport, with viewership highest for the English Premier League and The FIFA World Cup.