Live sports was already a television juggernaut, taking 19 of the top 25 spots for the highest rated television events last year.
But maybe it is true that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, as a lack of any on-field action thanks to COVID-19 has made fans only want live sports more.
As a part of their “Coronavirus Lockdown Fan Study,” ESPN asked 1,003 sports fans about their perceptions of sports during the pandemic. The first wave of this study was conducted in April and the second wave last month.
Naturally, they found that sports fans love watching action on TV. But what’s interesting is that they found interest had increased since earlier in the year.
Back in April, 56% of people said they “couldn’t wait” for sports to come back (the highest level of anticipation in this survey) and plan to watch as much as they possibly can, even if it’s not a team or league they have a particular interest in. That percentage increased to 59% just last month.
In the first wave, 68% of fans said sports league should return even without fans (as the MLB did just last week). The second time around, that percentage jumped to 78%, showing fans were getting more desperate just to have something to watch.
What makes this data relevant to right now is that there’s never been a time when so many live sports have collided at once. The NHL is set to return in early August to begin their playoffs, the NBA returns July 31, and the MLB has a shortened season that began in late July.
Ratings for baseball’s opening weekend were the strongest in years, so if those numbers are any indication, expect other sports to see sky-high numbers as well.
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