Understanding Today's Gen Z and Millennial Sports Fans

Published on:

New Research from Dentsu and Overtime Reveal Younger Sports Fans Favor Digital Over Traditional Viewing 

Gen Z sports fans 27% more likely to appreciate brands that sponsor sports-related social content compared to brands that advertise during live sports games on linear TV

NEW YORK, NY (October 19, 2022) - With the NFL heating up and MLB World Series just around the corner, you may be surprised at just how much sports fans tend to engage beyond the linear TV screen and the myriad opportunities for brands to meet viewers. The increased proliferation of sports content across social media channels has radically impacted how today’s sports fans consume content related to their favorite teams, players and live sports games.

Overtime and dentsu partnered on original research exploring the different ways Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X who identify as sports fans engage with sports content across linear television and digital platforms. The research shows that many younger fans are now favoring digital platforms over traditional ones.

During the 2022 NBA Playoffs, a series of surveys were fielded among 2,000 13-54 year-olds in the U.S. in order to understand the attitudes and behaviors of sports fans. Younger sports fans (Gen Z and Millennials) are engaging with sports in very different ways than their older counterparts. Key findings include: 

  • Recall for traditional linear TV ads is less effective for younger sports fans: Among NBA fans aged 13-34 who had watched a live playoff game during the same day that they were surveyed, 2 out of 3 could not remember a single ad that played during the game. In addition, 1-in-5 muted the linear TV when ads came on. 
  • Younger fans follow sports media brands:  Younger fans appreciate original sports content that is developed specifically for social channels and YouTube. Gen Z fans surveyed were almost twice as likely to follow sports media companies on social media compared to Gen X sports fans.
  • Engaging younger sports fans through original content drives recall and action: Overtime campaigns, on average tripled unaided brand recall and drove positive brand perceptions and purchase intent. 

“Overtime continues to be at the forefront of what the under-35 audience consumes from sports, entertainment and lifestyle,” said Rich Calacci, Chief Revenue Officer at Overtime. “Our community of over 70 million fans know they can tune into any of our accounts and find something that relates to them. Partnering with Dentsu allows us to continue to support that strategy with data based insights.” 

“This research shows that younger sports fans have new behaviors to indulge their passion,” said Brian Monahan, Head of Dentsu Innovation Initiative US. “Together with innovators like Overtime, we need to get creative in how we engage younger audiences to impact mass culture at scale and reach younger sports fans in ways that will resonate.”

Methodology: We conducted two separate surveys focused on understanding attitudes and behaviors of sports fans aged 13-54.

  • Sports Fan Survey: An online survey fielded among 1,000 sports fans aged 18-54 explored their overall media behaviors and attitudes towards sports content and advertising. This was fielded using Toluna’s panel in May 2022. Notably, among those who started the survey, 22% of Gen Z and 20% of Millennials did not qualify because they do not consider themselves sports fans. In addition, 34% of Gen X respondents were disqualified because they did not consider themselves sports fans.
  • NBA Fan Survey: An online survey fielded among 1,000 NBA fans aged 13-34 who had watched an NBA game that day. The survey was fielded through Perksy leading up to and during NBA playoff games in April 2022 and was at peak interest during the season.The survey explored how Gen Z and Millennials followed games as well as ad recall among those who watched the games live.

To see the full report, click here

About Overtime

Overtime builds disruptive new sports leagues aimed globally at the next generation of sports fans and athletes. Overtime owns and operates, OTE in basketball and OT7 in football, and leverages digital-first content across its network of accounts engaging its community of over 70 million fans and followers. Overtime's business model is driven by sponsorships, brand relationships, e-commerce, licensing and media rights. 

Overtime is backed by Liberty Media Corporation, Andreessen Horowitz, Blackstone, Counterpoint Global (Morgan Stanley), Sapphire Sport, Winslow Capital, Bezos Expeditions, Spark Capital, Micromanagement Ventures (the family of the late David Stern), Black Capital, Alexis Ohanian, Drake, Quavo and 40+ NBA and NFL stars including Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Trae Young. Over 6% of active NBA players have invested in Overtime.

 About dentsu 

Part of Dentsu Group, Dentsu is a network designed for what’s next, helping clients predict and plan for disruptive future opportunities and create new paths to growth in the sustainable economy. Dentsu delivers people-focused solutions and services to drive better business and societal outcomes. This is delivered through five global leadership brands - Carat, Dentsu Creative, dentsu X, iProspect and Merkle, each with deep specialisms.

Dentsu's radically collaborative team of diverse creators unifies people, clients and capabilities through horizontal creativity to help clients create culture, change society, and invent the future.

Powered by 100% renewable energy, Dentsu operates in over 145 markets worldwide with more than 46,000 dedicated specialists, and partners with 95 of the top 100 global advertisers. www.dentsu.com

About dentsu Innovation Initiative

The Dentsu Innovation Initiative (DII) mission is to proactively produce new business foundations for the Dentsu Group and grow its businesses through innovation in the face of accelerated change. Launched in 2018, DII has built a unique value creation capability that makes it challenging for other agencies to replicate by not only investing in start-ups but by building solutions with leading innovative companies around the world. To date, we have announced two $100M funds to make equity investments from series A to B through our corporate venture wing, Dentsu Ventures. We have a strong portfolio with over 50 cutting edge martech/adtech, media, commerce tech and other innovators such as Brave, Outbrain and Overtime.  Simply put, we're the corporate venture & innovation team at dentsu.