The 4 Types of Sports Fans and How Marketers Can Catch Their Attention Without Live Sports

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Live sports, like most industries, have been drastically affected by the impacts of COVID-19. In the month of March alone, the NCAA canceled March Madness entirely and several professional leagues including the NBA, MLB and NHL postponed their seasons. The impact of the pandemic on sports has now reached a global level, with the IOC most recently deciding to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Given the unprecedented cancellation of live sports programming, fans are naturally shifting to other forms of media to fill gaps in content. But not all fans are created equal. In reality, there are four unique types of sports viewers who will turn to alternative content to fill the void of regular sports programming.

Advertisers should now consider classic games, esports or even content completely outside of sports when looking to shift their previously allocated ad spend and continue to reach highly coveted sports fans.

Here’s how to identify each type of fan and where to find them in during this live sports pause.

The avid fan

This fan never misses a game and is constantly in tune with the performance of their favorite teams. Their closets are filled with apparel from their favorite teams, including jerseys and hats. They may even have a piece of signed memorabilia. For this type of fan, live sports are difficult to replace as part of their media diet. To cope, these viewers will instead turn to the next best thing: reruns of classic games that sports channels like ESPN, NBC Sports and CBS are airing in place of previously scheduled games. Avid fans will also revisit older games that are saved on their DVR and tune into sports newscasts for the latest updates on players, teams and leagues during the lapse in live play.

For advertisers to successfully navigate this change, they must shift their ad spend, similarly to how fans are shifting their viewing habits.

Where can advertisers reach this subtype? The avid fan will stick to sports-related content primarily on their usual channels for reruns but will also spend time on streaming platforms where sports reruns are available.

The multitasker

These fans can’t get enough of sports, period. Managing fantasy leagues is more than just a hobby, and they are attracted to any sport where point scoring is involved. This type of fan doesn’t necessarily always follow a specific team or sport but is interested in anything sports related.

Multitaskers will now divulge their attention to sports-centric films and sports documentaries, like ESPN 30 for 30. In addition to these films and sports specials, multitasker fans will miss the competitive nature of sports and might take up video games or esports as a result to curb their appetite for competition. Games like NBA 2K and Madden NFL allow these fans to get their dose of sports, even when the live games aren’t happening.

To reach these fans, advertisers should shift spend to networks airing sports movies and OTT platforms that have these content rights.

The fair-weather fan

Fair-weather fans don’t watch sports for the competition or results; instead, they are attracted to the overall social experience that comes with it. This means that their commitment to sports viewership is far more casual than other fans. Since their motive for watching isn’t tied to the sport itself, these types of fans might now find themselves gravitating toward non-sports related content.

Fair-weather fans will miss live sports but will adjust and spend their time watching cooking shows, reality television or classic sitcoms. In fact, Nielsen released a report stating that staying home might lead to a 60% increase in the amount of content watched overall. Without live sports on the table, fair-weather fans will be upping their consumption in other areas.

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