The television sports audience is aging

Here is the source link, via the excellent Michael Nielsen.  And Michael notes: “…the audience for sport is aging less fast than for prime time tv; but faster than the US population as a whole.”


They've left E-sports off the list. I'm not sure playing a computer game counts as sport, but watching people play a computer games provides exactly the same health benefit as watching people play traditional sports.

'provides exactly the same health benefit as watching people play traditional sports'

When one is indoors in front of a screen.

Many German soccer fans often do a fair bit of walking - generally when seeing a home game, because walking tends to be a reasonably fast way to come and go from the stadium and from and to public transit stations (and it allows for fans to drink without worrying about legal hassles). Away games are bit more complex - some people drive, but a lot of the more organized fans tend to take a (reserved for them) train, then walk (march may not be an inappropriate term to use at times, though it depends on the fans and other factors) to the stadium.

One assumes that this is true of many European soccer fans (especially in countries like the UK, Netherlands, France, Italy, or Spain).

Many German soccer fans often do a fair bit of walking - generally when seeing a home game, because walking tends to be a reasonably fast way to come and go from the stadium and from and to public transit stations (and it allows for fans to drink without worrying about legal hassles).

Wow. What a hard people.

Well, I assume that fans of major sports in the NY or Boston area (among other major American cities) are much the same. You are welcome to call them hard too, of course.

Still different than sitting in front of a screen, obviously.

I am Portuguese, and as any good Portuguese guy I am a soccer fanatic and I can vouch for that. In Europe, watching a live soccer match involves a lot of walking for serious fans.

The thing on match days, the traffic around the stadia (especially in large cities) is pretty chaotic. So you are better off just walking and take public transportations: it's more fun and less of a hassle.

(I suspect that in places like NYC or Boston it works pretty much the same way)

they left out sports of the mind, like chess, which should be an Olympic sport the same as 10m air pistol is.

Bonus trivia: the Fide chess World Championship match starts next month between the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, the favorite, and the American Fabio Caruana. Go fab Fabio go!

watching people play a computer games provides exactly the same health benefit as watching people play traditional sports.

I've also read that hamburgers are high in protein and potatoes are very nutritious. There are websites that will tell you anything you want to believe if you're motivated to look for them.

They left mixed martial arts off too.

The finale of the Fortnite Fall Skirmish had a peak of over 340K online viewers and probably thousands (maybe tens of thousands) in person at the convention hall. The League of Legends semifinal at over 400K online viewers (a North American team made it to the semis which is unusual, Koreans dominate the tournaments).

Regular season baseball games run about a million viewers, so esports have a way to catch up.

Is it non-obvious that this is just a statistical artifact of cord-cutting? An I missing something here?

I'm pretty sure that the under 18 results for sports like golf are not due to cord cutting. You did read the actual article, right? There is no question that the results are based on measured viewership, and that a certain amount of viewership is not measured. Nonetheless, look at the table, and then try to imagine how many of the listed sports are suffering from a significant unmeasured group of younger viewers due to cord cutting.

Even if this is not a statistical artifact of cord cutting, it is probably caused by it. Cord cutting made it so that many more viewers (especially younger viewers) no longer have an expectation for appointment viewing. Netflix viewers aren't shown ads for when the next game is on.

I'm not asserting with a high degree of certainty. It's just an intuition, and a clever researcher can measure it and see if it is true.

Honestly - how many young people have you ever met who are interested in watching golf?

Also, the article says ESPN tracks its digital audience. It does not say that the chart includes digital viewership. If you follow the tweetstream, you learn that the chart excludes streaming.

And it most certainly doesn't include illegal streaming. Younger viewers are more tech savvy and know a lot more about ways to watch sports without having to pay.

Yes. Hard to know how big a flaw that is but it should be noted. MLB, for example, had a combined 3.5 million subscribers to its AtBat and MLB.TV offerings in 2014. There is going to be a fair amount of duplication there, but it's still a fair number of viewers and, plausibly, viewers younger than the broadcast/cable audience.

Some streaming services include live sports.

Kids these days get many of the things that earlier generations got from watching sports by instead watching e-sports. There's someone streaming at all times, you can actually interact with the streamers when they are not playing the most serious of matches, and if you want to play yourself with your friends, instead of having to play once or twice a week, when it's the league and your soccer mom's convenience, you can team up together. You also get paired up, at any time, with a team that is going to be more or less your own skill level, making it more fun to play, and easier to improve.

It took two decades for them to really start paying good money (The first online e-sports leagues started with Quake in 1996), as videogames went from something that only nerds play to something that every young person does, but they are finally here. They don't pay like being an NBA player yet, but give it another decade.

A lot of younger 'fans' don't even watch the games they just look up the data for their fantasy teams (football, baseball, basketball, etc), no need to watch.

Not good for horse racing and NASCAR, average audience is aging very fast.

The data are consistent with an audience consisting of virtually the same people for the entire 16 year period. Nobody who hasn't picked up this habit already is doing so.

I read an article this past week about baseball and the reason for its decline in viewership. The explanation given is that baseball lacks superstars, unlike the NBA which has several. The same can be said for NASCAR and the PGA Tour. Television is about celebrity, and sports without superstars is a sport without celebrity. I suspect that some sports have intentionally discouraged the creation of superstars (superstars are created not born) because, if they fall, the sport falls with them. The NBA seems to be the exception, with superstars who don't fall and take the sport with them. As for football, the entire sport is in trouble, from youth league to the NFL, even college football. Indeed, the voice of the Southeastern Conference, Paul Finebaum, recently stated on his show that the SEC is in trouble. The SEC, the premier league in college football. But don't fear the absence of sport on television: there's always Donald Trump and his brand of politics as sport to entertain us.

Baseball has superstars, if by superstars you mean players who are enormously better than their peers. Mike Trout is likely to be one of the 3-4 best players of all time by the time he retires. Baseball's problem, in my opinion, is that its superstars (Trout as the prime example) are extremely boring off the field, particularly relative to say basketball.

Trout is also on a bad team, never in the postseason when even casual fans watch sometimes.

The other problem is your biggest stars in baseball are only involved in the action for maybe 10% of the game, unless they are pitchers but then it's once every five days.

I know Mike Trout is one of the best ever, but if I ran into him on the street, I'd have no idea who he was.

I wonder what the average age is for MMA.

MMA Is the future. Avg between 18-35

The chart needs the average age of the population for comparison.

Age and demographic changes. White folks watch TV sports and they are aging and shrinking as a percentage. Hockey is the exception, but the raw numbers are smaller.

Soccer is mentioned briefly (even hidden) in the marketwatch link while it's half the article on the source article.

So, globalization = football.....errrr, soccer.

No mention of bowling, which I remember had as much or more TV hours as golf. Of course, I remember bowling centers everywhere along with lots of bowling leagues.

keep the humans entertained until the end...

death comes soon enough to them all ... older humans more clearly see death approaching and seek distractions

Younger humans are plenty distracted by video games these days. Sport just can't compete.

In order for these numbers to be interesting, I would need to compare them to the increase in the median age of all Americans.

Median age in 2000 was 35.3 years.

Median age in 2006 was about 36.5 years (based upon linear interpolation between 2000 and 2010).

Median age in 2016 was 37.9 years.

Generations of American modeling of couch potato behaviors begins to yield passive audiences too sclerotic volitionally (or somatically) to reach for the remote control.

Why feign surprise that tech-supplied sensory deprivation (practically all media appeals are to visual and auditory stimuli to the exclusion of all others) has begun to yield somatic disengagement?

Woh cares? It's Blizzcon next weekend.

This reminds me of what Ben Thompson said in the Conversations with Tyler episode. The TV advertising complex is an ecosystem of industries that are tied to each other. I don't watch a great deal of TV, but whenever I do, I find it remarkable how much advertising is for what else to watch on the same family of networks.

I find it remarkable how much advertising is for what else to watch on the same family of networks.

That advertising is air-time that they weren't able to sell.

I wonder how much of this is simply the large boomer generation getting older vs smaller percentage of younger viewers. I'm sure it's both to some extent.

Those are shocking numbers, and they're AVERAGE -- so for every roomful of younger guys watching a game, eating nachos, high-fiving each other and going "I love you, man" at every score, that means there's got to be a bunch of people watching the same game while hooked up to IV trees.

I wonder how average age is skewing for TV sports vs. the actual in-person audience. Also how TV sports measures up against the typical TV sitcom, cop show, lawyer show or local newscast.

I'm actually encouraged when I go to the horse track -- the age mix isn't so bad and there are usually enough MILFs to go around. When I go to a classical concert things look pretty dire.

The sports are aging faster than the country, but none of them is aging as fast as I am. In 2000 I was younger than all but the average WNBA, NHL and NBA fan By 2016 I'm older than all but the top 4. The oddest is the WNBA which started with an age of 42 and was, 16 years later, just a little slower in increase than if they'd had the same set of fans all along without any of the older ones dying.

The study doesn't account for the changes in a person's sports preferences over time. Nitwit teenagers are enthralled by the savage hits in American football. When they get older they come to appreciate the mental challenge of horse race handicapping and the nuances that were once so important in rapidly decaying major league baseball.

I gave up cable nearly 20 years ago and haven't missed it. I watch one episode of a TV show (usually bootlegged) after dinner, and am working on cutting that down to spend more time playing with the kids. Instead of sitting on a couch watching TV on weekends, we go out hiking or to a playground or a swimming pool in the summer, or explore tourist attractions in the local area. Or just get chores done around the house. It's much more fulfilling and I feel like I am getting more out of life, I have more interesting highlights and varied memories to look back on at the end of the year.

Anyway, watching sports is just another escapist activity which people get far too wrapped up in. Escapism has it's benefits, but it would be better if people did something physical instead of sitting in front of a screen. Like LARPing or SCA or something. Football pretty much being simulated war, you probably would be better off running around in homemade armor wacking people with sticks, instead of watching other people running around in fake armor throwing balls at eachother.

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