TV Sports With Younger Viewers: It's Still A Thing

Where is the intersection now with sports on linear TV and young viewers? Apparently there are still decent viewing levels to consider.

For example, while viewing all linear TV content for persons ages 2 to 17 is down a massive 86% since 2015, levels are down just 35% for sports content over that same time period, according to MoffettNathanson Research.

“Sports still has legs across younger demographics,” according to Michael Nathanson, media analyst for MoffettNathanson Research. 

“The declines in younger audiences for sports is not nothing, but it is an order of magnitude different from the declines seen across the rest of the ecosystem.”

What do they still watch? Seems the upcoming annual college basketball tournament -- “March Madness” is one.



A 2023 report from YPulse says the top sport for Gen Z/Millennials is basketball (44%) followed by football (43%). 

There is also the question of how traditional video business mechanics fit into young viewers' viewing habits. Many reports point to the strong likelihood that young media consumers will never buy a cable TV bundle subscription.

But that doesn't mean that won't get it on connected TV apps or other digital platforms.

Overall, a broader view of sports says its importance on linear TV platforms will continue. Much of this recent history is based on viewers 50 years and up, which have seen a 120% increase in sports viewing since 2015.

MoffettNathanson says that on an absolute basis, sports viewing is up. In the fourth quarter of 2023, it commanded a 28% share of all linear TV viewing versus an 18% share in the fourth quarter of 2019.

As for non-sports programming, it is down 45% among all viewers.

Although they will probably never be cable TV subscribers, they will still watch sports -- sometime, somewhere.

You can make the case that linear TV is hanging on by a thread because of sports. But looking further, we see that older and younger viewers are key reasons.

1 comment about "TV Sports With Younger Viewers: It's Still A Thing".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 20, 2024 at 11:05 a.m.

    Wayne, here are a few stats from our just released annual report on TV---"Total TV Dimensions 2024" -----that may be of interest. In 1995 the median age of the population was 34 years and the corresponding figures ---"per minute" ---for linear TV sports and prime time viewers were, 44 and 43 years respectively. By 2023, the median age of the population had risen to 39 years---a 15% rise---- however the median age of TV sports viewers was up to 55 years------a 25% increase, while prime was up to 61 years---a leap of 42%. Yes, basketball and soccer are relatively younger than  the norms, but this is largely due to an imbalance of black audiences favoring basketball and Hispanic viewers favoring soccer---both population groups being younger than the total pop's average.

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