Consumer behavior shifts and new experiences are broadening fan engagement – Nielsen - Social Media Explorer
Consumer behavior shifts and new experiences are broadening fan engagement – Nielsen
Consumer behavior shifts and new experiences are broadening fan engagement – Nielsen

While many industries are affected by the pandemic worldwide, global sports has seen the most significant impact. The return of sports fans midway through 2021 was greeted with cheers by all. However, sports fans’ behavior has evolved so much that it is difficult for the industry to go back to its pre-COVID state, in particular with regard to the way they interact with the content.

The proliferation of non-traditional media channels, amplified by the acceleration of digital adoption over the past two years, has forever changed the media landscape–including how fans engage with sports. Today, 40% of all global sports lovers are digitally savvy.1 opt to stream live sports events through digital platforms, a percentage that reflects both fans’ appetite for sports content and the growing wealth of available over-the-top (OTT) options for fans to choose from.

While the sport viewing experience has changed dramatically with the advent of new media channels, DAZN’s media impact on viewership and media values has been substantial, although it is largely not in the U.S.

There is no substitute for live sports action, but the proliferation of content across an expanding array of platforms has sparked increased consumption of additional sports content—both related to and not related to live matches. Both rightsholders as well as brands have a lot of opportunities. This highlights the importance of content related to sports, particularly among younger people. For example, just under 44% of fans 16-29 who watch non-live sports content that’s related to live matches do so via digital, which is just 0.4% less than those who watch live matches via digital.

Content related to live events (match highlights, highlight videos, etc.) is in high demand. It is just as important to have content for live events as digitally-delivered ones. Content that is not related to live events (docuseries or behind the scenes of virtual events) are also highly sought after. It is slightly more sought-after than the live digital event content. Non-live content can attract fans to specific teams and leagues, as well as new viewers to the sport, particularly if it is not on the same channels.

Media consumption has expanded beyond a single screen. Even when big matches are on, it is not limited to one screen. For many, one screen isn’t enough, as the general population has increased its multi-screen viewing activities (social media, texting, playing games, ordering food) by an average of 5% over the last year, with this percentage doubling to 10% among Gen Z2.

Most of the second-screen activity has to do with social media engagement. However, as people seek out new ways to get together, order food and online gaming have gained momentum throughout the pandemic. Gen Z is the most popular at 26% and 31%, respectively.

It is clear that the digital connection is changing the ways consumers consume media and sport content. As channel and device fragmentation increase, it will be critical for brands and rights holders to remain connected to shifting consumer behaviors to ensure they’re able to engage with them on the right platforms and in the right way.

Download our brochure for more details Global Sports Marketing Report 2022.


  1. SME Fan Insights for August 2021: Australia, Brazil. Canada, China. France. Germany. India. Indonesia. Japan. Nigeria. Russia. South Korea. Spain. Thailand. U.K.
  2. SME Fan Insights August 2020, vs. August 2021, Brazil, China France, Germany Italy, Japan South Korea, Spain U.K., and U.S.
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