Live Sports Is Delivering On Its Value Proposition

As someone who has been both a consumer and a researcher of the sports business for more years than today’s most coveted audience demographic has been alive, I’ve seen plenty of commentary on the meteoric rise of costs to attend and watch live sports. 

With overall inflation and prices for consumer goods continuing to be one of the top two concerns among American fans in our monthly consumer optimism research, it would be easy to lump in live sports.  Consider that Team Marketing Report’s 2023 Fan Index asserted that the average cost for a family of four to attend an NFL game was an unprecedented $631+, and it’s no surprise that delivering a differentiated fan experience continues to be the focus of so many leagues and teams.

In lockstep with that theme, we’ve seen a hyper-fixation on creating an experience that goes beyond the core and long-term fan base. That experience is also meant to appeal to younger generations along with “event enthusiasts,” who seek increasingly sophisticated delivery of participatory fandom and onsite activations that go well beyond the game itself.  Just look at any sports venue renovation or new build of the past 15 years. You’ll generally see a focus on creating flexible social spaces, enhanced food and beverage experiences, and innovative premium seating environments targeted directly at these less traditional target markets.



While these factors have certainly contributed to the rampant escalation in costs to attend a live event, I’m reminded that cost and value are distinctly different.  As I’ve said for years in industry presentations, if delivering value were the same as providing low-cost options, everyone would be driving a used car.

So, it isn’t as counterintuitive as you might think that we continue to see strong demand for live sports, despite the price increases.  In fact, the latest validation of this comes from research that we conducted with sports fans just last month. Eight-five percent  agreed that “There’s something uniquely entertaining about watching sports in person.”  In the same study, over 60% agreed that “Attending a live sporting event is a good value.”

Perhaps most encouraging in these latest findings is that these sentiments are strongest among the youngest cohorts of sports fans -- the very audience marketers have been particularly focused on during recent years.  Just under three in four fans under the age of 25, and 71% of those aged 25-34 agree that attending a live sporting event is a good value.  Interestingly, the agreement level linearly decreased as fan age increased.

There’s clearly more evolution and innovation to come in driving value for emerging generations of the live sports audience.  That should be an exciting proposition for those charged with delivering these experiences -- and for folks like me, charged with helping to define and measure what will constitute both overt and latent demand for value.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications