Fans that watch most or almost all of their favorite team’s games are just different from everyone else. And in a very good way when it comes to brands who market through sports.
YouGov conducted a large-scale study of thousands of fans who watch most or almost every MLB, NBA, or NHL game played by their favorite teams. Comparing these fans to the national population reveals significant differences that help explain why brands flock to sports sponsorships and programming.
In the first of this three-part series, home team fans were shown to be more sponsor supporting, ad receptive, and ad engaging than the general population. Part two addresses how home team fans are gaming friendly, sales prone, and, as market mavens, are important brand influencers. The third part in the series will explain differences in terms of personality types and demographic differences that appeal to advertisers.
Each chart shows the percentage of fans who agree with a statement divided by the percentage of the national population who agree with statement to produce an indexed score. Responses are drawn from samples of several thousand home team fans of MLB, NBA, or NHL teams compared to a representative sample of the national population. The difference between the home team fans and the general population is statistically significantly different for all items reported.
Since the United States Supreme Court struck down the ban on sports betting in 2018, states have rushed to its legalization or have bills in the works in all but three states.
You may have correctly guessed sports fans are in favor of adding more ways for Americans to redistribute their wealth via online gambling, fantasy sports, and betting on sporting events.
The reason this matters to sponsors is that betting helps fans “feel more engaged with the sports they like.” Fantasy sports help fans “feel more connected” to their favorite teams. This engagement and connection means these highly motivated fans are more focused throughout broadcasts and at the games themselves. They are leaning-in not tuning out.
Although fantasy sports and books like FanDuel and DraftKings still seek profitability, it’s not for lack of interest from home team sports fans who largely favor legalization of online gambling (55%) compared to the general population (41%).
As part three in the series illustrates, home team fans tend to have an outgoing social nature that combines with a need to try new things and recommend them to others. In another sense, home team fans are literally out-going to games and elsewhere for entertainment.
When Samsung introduces a new QLED 8K TV or T-Mobile, AT&T or Verizon promote the newest Apple iPhone or how they are the leaders in 5G, home team fans will be the ones in-the-know to tell others about the new products or services. As part three shows, home team fans are often early adopters of new technology, making them a valuable target for any consumer electronics and related companies.
It’s one thing for fans to be gaming-friendly or market mavens, but what matters more to marketers is an openness to be sold. Consumers readily fall into routine buying patterns, even for high-end purchases. Sports provide a way for brands to break through the clutter to reach people receptive to new products or services.
Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW and Audi automakers sponsor global events and home teams for much the same reasons banks (Chase, PNC Bank, Bank of America, US Bank, etc.) and credit cards (MasterCard, VISA, and American Express) invest so heavily in sponsorships.
Naming rights and anchor sponsorships are dominated by banking, finance & insurance companies, along with automakers and their dealer groups. These sponsorships help maintain loyalty and serve to block competitors.
Passionate home team fans who watch many or nearly all of the games are twice as likely to be in the market for a luxury car. They’re self-admittedly suckers for expensive, high-end brands. They trust products endorsed by celebrities and athlete influencers. They buy luxury products and services for themselves—and we assume also for their significant others who join them at the game or to watch on TV (but who never get to use the remote control).
Given home team fans are gaming-friendly, market mavens and sales prone, it follows that the psychographics and demographics of home team fans show them to be more innovative and extraverted socially-oriented individuals. What might surprise some is how upscale and diverse—and physically active—these erstwhile couch potatoes really are, as we learn in the third and final installment in this series.