Heavy TV Sports Viewers Still Watching During COVID-19 Crisis: Nielsen

Although there have been virtually no live sports for the most of March due to COVID-19, Nielsen says heavy sports viewers are still watching lots of sports programming -- with 10% of their big Sunday viewing going toward sports content.

Many sports networks, for all days of the weeks starting in March, have been airing re-airs of major games and events. This includes the NBA, college basketball, professional and college football, and NHL Hockey, as well as many simulation video games -- car racing, basketball -- played by pro athletes.

Although heavy sports viewers' TV usage time has grown (March 9 through March 29) less than all U.S. viewers -- 10% versus a 23% hike for adults 18+ viewers -- they have much higher overall TV viewing time.

For example, during the month of March, total viewing among heavy sports viewers grew 24 minutes -- averaging 7 hours/36 minutes -- on Sunday versus a 43-minute increase for adults 18 and older, 4 hours/30 minutes.



Typically, heavy sports viewers spend 26% of their overall time watching sports. Just before sports leagues shut down their operations, on March 8, for example, 9% of all U.S. adults’ overall time was spent on viewing sports events.

Sports TV programming is a major part of TV marketers yearly, spending -- almost $20 billion -- with 85% of that, about $17 billion, tied to live sporting events. Another $1.2 billion is spent by brands around digital advertising related to sports.

Digital media for heavy sports users has seen a 15-minute bump per day since the crisis started (March 11), now peaking to around 270 minutes a day per user. For all mobile users, there has been a 20-minute increase to around 260 minutes per day.

2 comments about "Heavy TV Sports Viewers Still Watching During COVID-19 Crisis: Nielsen".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 17, 2020 at 7:50 a.m.

    Wayne, we should be as clear as possible when talking about heavy sports viewers and all viewing.The data Nielsen provided is only about weekends, not weekdays which account for the lion's share of all TV usage. Therefore it may be true that heavy weekend sports viewers watch more TV on weekends than the total adult population---not surprising---but this does not mean that they are the heaviest viewers of TV content, in general. In fact, this is probably not the csse.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, April 17, 2020 at 8:16 p.m.

    Maybe said 'heavy TV sports viewers' are simply too heavy to get themselves off the couch.

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