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Generation Z digital natives who are interested in a greater variety of sports than previous generations

  • Younger fans are still interested in sport but consume it differently
  • Almost half of Gen Z and Millennials prefer to look on their phones
  • However, streaming has not yet replaced television as the primary method

According to a new report from LaLiga Tech and Nielsen, Gen Z and Millennials are interested in a wider variety of sports than older generations and have very different consumption habits shaped by mobile technology.

The study, commissioned by the technology department of Spain’s top soccer league, found that consumers aged 34 and under followed 6.3 sports on average – a slight increase over those followed by older demographics. However, 65 different sports were listed, highlighting that there is an opportunity for niche disciplines that can use mobile and digital technologies to showcase themselves to this potential audience.

Almost half (46 percent) of younger fans prefer to watch sports on their smartphone, half play games while watching a match and 41 percent play fantasy sports to complement their experience. As many as 55 percent expect to see and interact with live stats during a game, reflecting the challenge for broadcasters to integrate more data into their production.

The study also explained the ongoing shift to over-the-top (OTT) services, but half of those who streamed sports did so while simultaneously watching traditional linear TV. This suggests that OTT is seen as a way to consume more sport at the same time, rather than replacing TV as the primary viewing method.

According to LaLiga Tech, the study contradicts the conventional wisdom that younger people are less interested in sports and confirms that technology is a way to reach this audience. However, it also warns that rightsholders need to use data analytics to learn more about viewer behavior and ensure fans have access to the digital platforms they need to access content.

“The future of the sport depends on its fans and when those fans change their behavior it is important that the industry responds,” said Fabio Gallo, Product Director at LaLiga Tech.

“This report underscores trends that we have been observing for some time; Digital audiences are drawn to esports through gaming, streaming content or mobile apps, but their fandom hasn’t changed and may even be growing.

“Now is the time for sports organizations to prepare for change by creating proprietary digital platforms that allow their content to be discovered by a new generation and using data analytics to build stronger fan links than ever create.”

“We see that fans are already choosing to consume sport through digital platforms as an additional option to traditional formats,” added Ramón Amich, General Director of Nielsen Sports Spain.

“Fans are looking for immersive experiences and to that end we are seeing a clear preference for digital channels. Clubs, sports organizations and federations face the challenge of improving communication and the television experience in order to retain fans.”

In a separate development, technology developed by LaLiga Tech found that 99 percent of the 7,809 games analyzed in Spain last season were free of match-fixing. The Tyche 3.0 tool uses artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor domestic and international bets and identify potential discrepancies.

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