Gen Z Video Insights:

Why Gen Z isn’t engaging with Sports

We’ve been adamant about the problem the sports industry is facing with Gen Z (see here, here and here).

Only 25% of zoomers watch sports at least once a week, and nearly 40% watch none at all. And what’s at the root of that problem? A lack of engagement with individual leagues and teams.

To help teams and leagues dig deeper into the big “why” behind Gen Z’s lack of engagement and fandom in sports, we’re tapping into our 60,000 Gen Z consumer network so you can hear directly from the voices of Gen Z. Here are our Voice of Consumer Insights on: Why Gen Z isn’t engaging with sports.

For those not watching… Why not? 

They’re being drawn to other avenues

From Digital Natives leaning into the title and embracing gaming + streaming platforms over sports, to zoomers gravitating towards more niche, non-team sports, we’re seeing a heavy portion of Gen Z place value in alternative forms of entertainment over traditional sports.

For those that watch… What are they not loving? 

 Gen Z’s ad-averse nature & distaste for downtime in games

For the generation growing up on screens with never-ending content, any break from the action will lead to signs of distaste. Gen Z is making it clear that with sports the same holds true. Their top answers for dissatisfaction in more traditional sports experiences are ads and downtime between major action.

What parts of their favorite sports are they enjoying? 

Interactive Elements Alongside Viewing

Whether it be while viewing in-person or through a broadcasted game, Gen Z demands interactive elements alongside their game content to keep their attention. While in attendance, they show their love for crowd engagement like dance cams, cheers, and jumbotron games (bonus points for player interaction as well). When Gen Z moves to watching at home, they’re really looking to engage on their “second device” through digital activations like quizzes, challenges and raffles.

Immersive Social Aspects & Energy of Live Games

Gen Z’s perspective of live game attendance is greatly brightened by the immersive experience brought about by the stadium and crowd experience. They note the social atmosphere and energy likens to a feeling of being part of the team – in unison as a crowd. This sense of community during attendance is a massive opportunity that can be integrated into digital viewing formats to better engage this generation.

How are they keeping up with sports to date? 

Watching through streaming; Keeping up to date on social

We’ve reported on this trend before, but Gen Z is the force behind the rise of sports viewership through streaming. This generation attributes the accessibility and cost of streaming (vs cable broadcasts & in-person) as their primary motivators behind the move to cross-device viewing. And though they primarily watch games through streaming, they’re constantly keeping up with their favorite teams on social (most notably Twitter and Instagram) by following both players and teams for news & updates.

Exclusive Player Content on Social

What’s the one word Gen Z demands more of from their sports? Access. Their affinity for social media means they expect more access than ever before from every brand, team, and celebrity (it’s been at their fingertips all their lives). They want to see and get to know their teams’ players in every aspects of their lives – from training sequences and mic’d up sound bytes during games to even following their favorite players’ activism efforts.

Sports accounts that speak their same language

If we’ve learned anything from speaking to hundreds of zoomers everyday, it’s that you must speak their language and play by their rules. And it’s a fact that shows true in who and how they’re following for their sports content. Barstool Sports was cited by a heavy portion of our respondents as the top source for how they follow sports news. Why? Gen Z mentioned that they’re accessible and meeting them where they are (Twitter and podcasts) and that they do so with interesting takes that mimic their own voices.

Live Betting + Building a Community of Fans

As mentioned, Gen Z is ultimately looking for more avenues to engage with their favorties sports beyond traditional broadcasts. Two avenues that were brought up frequently were live betting and fan communities. They’re using live betting platforms to keep entertained during slower games – adding a bit of excitement and stakes – and they use it as a launching pad for discussions with friends within group chats. Gen Z also seeks more connection to similar-minded fans (we covered off on platforms like Discord and Clubhouse here) and have even offered up their ideal experience in doing so (see video #2).

Want to dig deeper into how Gen Z prefers to engage with individual sports leagues and teams? Check out our most recent Gen Z Sports Panel at goknit.com/gen-z-panel-sports-may-2021

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