Even though the fields, courts, diamonds and rinks are empty, sports fans are still watching television. According to a recent study from Nielsen, people who regularly watch mostly live sports are simply watching other content than turning off the TV.
Let’s take a look back to early March when the NBA sidelined their action, becoming the first major sports league to do so. At the time, “heavy sports viewers” consumed about seven hours of television on weekdays and over eight hours on the weekends. For comparison, the average time for adults in general during that period was about five hours a day for both weekdays and weekends.
Once we get to the end of March, the average for heavy sports fans is over eight hours on a weekday and a little over 9 hours a day on the weekends. Of course, everybody was streaming more during those weeks, no it’s not the bump in activity that’s noteworthy but the fact that sports fans found other things to watch.
So where are sports fans turning? Most are headed for streaming services. From the start of March to the end of March, the percentage of time spent watching streaming content doubled among heavy sports fans. And a good number of them are still finding sports content to watch like reruns of classic games or documentaries.
Now that it’s clear sports fans haven’t gone anywhere, the questions is, can the leagues find a way to capitalize? NASCAR seemed to do so, creating virtual races and bringing former stars out of retirement for fairly strong ratings and good social media buzz. But we still have a month until big-league action resumes, so it’ll be interesting to see if anyone takes action.
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