Data Suggests NFL Losing Young Fans

The National Football League (NFL) does not seem to resonate well with younger viewers, which means advertisers could be losing out on reaching their strongest lifelong audience, according to Lotame data released Monday.

Fans ages 18 to 24 years old show the "lowest interest" among all who show an interest in football and use a PC or a smartphone.

Those with the highest interest in the NFL were individuals between 45 and 54 years of age, followed by between 55 and 64, more than 65 years old, between 35 and 44 years of age, and between 25 and 34 years of age.

It's not clear from the data why the NFL is losing young fans. A Burson-Marsteller study released last week suggests football fans want the NFL to keep politics out of the game -- or at least Super Bowl LII. Still, millennials are more welcoming of a political statement than other demographic groups, with 51% saying the game is a very appropriate place to express political views, and 21%, saying that's somewhat appropriate,



Broken down geographically, there were some differences in attitudes toward the NFL in the Lotame study. In urban and rural areas, individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 showed the most positive NFL behaviors, while individuals between the ages of 35 and 44 led in suburban areas.

Lotame, an independent data management platform, examined the digital behavior of "connected NFL fans," which the company defines as Americans who "are interested in football" and use a PC and a smartphone.

Connected NFL fans ranked in the top 71 percentile of income, and have “good" credit as a group.

4 comments about "Data Suggests NFL Losing Young Fans".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 5, 2018 at 7:22 p.m.

    Laurie, in your opening paragraph you state that advertisers could be "losing out on reaching their strongest lifelong audience" because the NFL is losing favor with young adults. Which puzzles me. There are many ways---using TV as well as other media----to reach young adults at a reasonable cost, other than the NFL games. Young adults watch many tpes of "linear TV---cable channels such as Comedy Central, MTV, E!, etc. as well as the CW TV network and, to a lesser degree, Fox, plus syndicated sitcoms and lots of other TV fare. You can reach them with a well thought out media plan---without spending a dime on the NFL telecasts. Of course, the NFL would like to be more popular with everybody---including "Millennials"---but from a media standpoint, the NFL is not an ideal media buy for reaching the 18-34s, let alone the 18-24s---unless you have some unique promotional tie-in with the sport and are willing to pay a lot to exploit it.

  2. John Kelly from Richmond Times Dispatch, February 6, 2018 at 9:52 a.m.

    And the NFL continues to work hard at chasing away the rest of its audience by not dealing with the disgraceful actions of its players with the national anthem.  I'm not paying to watch a bunch of spoiled brats demonstrate...serve a tour in Afghanistan and I'd be glad to listen...oh but yes nobody recognizes those players at a game.
    The half time show certainly didnt resonate with the general audience either ditch the hip hop crap and you might have an audience...Grammies are you listening??

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 6, 2018 at 10:58 a.m.

    As anything else, the more choice of tastes as in food or choice of activities, the pieces of the pie get smaller. The NFL is no exception. If the racists would rather segregate themselves out and prefer not to participate, all the better. 

  4. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment replied, February 6, 2018 at 8:38 p.m.

    The NFL has made it increasingly difficult to figure out WHERE to watch a game.  And for younger viewers who are cord-cutters, having games on ESPN and the NFL Network combined with an ever-changing digital distibution (is it Yahoo this week or twitter or Yahoo!) equals alienating a digital-dependent audience.

    As a fan of the game, and I am no millenial, I've gotten fed up trying to figure out where/when games are playing so I stopped trying.

    In an era when digital distribution should make access 10x easier, the NFL's antiquated carriage deals, while profitable for the NFL, is what's killing the game for younger viewers.  Throw in all the controversies, politics, concerns about concussions, and the league has been poorly managed under Roger Goodell.

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