News Releases

USC Annenberg/ThePostGame: GenZ and younger Millennial sports fans are driving fundamental changes in programming, platforms and purchasing
#SCORE 2016 sports consumption research findings include: Sports widows are now sports fans, mobile devices are second only to TV, younger fans will pay the most

LOS ANGELES, May 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg and ThePostGame today released findings from their comprehensive behavioral study of American sports fans, including the impact of the post-Millennial Generation Z demographic. The study will be conducted annually and will be supplemented by issue-focused questions throughout the year.

"#SCORE 2016 reveals the growing importance of sports content to all types of media and every platform," said Jeffrey I. Cole, PhD, Founder and Director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg. "Sports is the last category of must-see-now content. Based on our data, GenZ and Millennial fans are clearly shifting preferences, behavior and spending."

"Multibillion-dollar decisions are being made today that will affect how fans access sports content for years to come," said David Katz, Founder and CEO of ThePostGame, a leading digital sports lifestyle content company and co-sponsor of the #SCORE report. "Our goal is to arm the leagues, teams, TV networks, technology companies and advertisers with this unprecedented data to help them make fundamentally sound decisions that benefit all of their constituents."

#SCORE 2016: The Impact of Changing Sports Fan Behavior on Media, Advertising and Spending, brings a unique perspective to the industry, combining the academic rigor and exclusive data from the Center for the Digital Future's 17-year World Internet Project with ThePostGame's category expertise in digital sports content in this new survey. This comprehensive analysis covers 60 sports and every possible device and platform.

The following findings were announced today:

Nearly all Americans (86 percent), both male (92 percent) and female (80 percent), consider themselves sports fans.

  • 24 percent of Americans consider themselves "intense" sports fans. Demographically, the most intense sports fans are more likely to be: male, between the ages of 35 and 54, married, have a college degree, earn $125,000 a year, and of African-American descent.
  • Having kids in the household matters – sometimes a lot. Older Millennials with children in their household tend to consume sports content.
  • Ethnicity can affect preference. The NBA is the most followed sport by African Americans, while the NFL is #1 across every other demographic.
  • Geography matters sometimes. Ice hockey is more followed in the northeast than college basketball.

It's time to challenge many of our long-held assumptions about sports.

  • The sports widow has become a sports fan. 80 percent of women self-identify as sports fans, and they are willing to pay up to 50% more for some types of sports content and media platforms.
  • Sports has gone from a local experience to a national one.  Sixty-four percent of fans do not live where their favorite team plays and 73% of sports fans do not live where their favorite athlete plays. The concept of a local sports market may be obsolete.
  • Americans have a broad interest in sports. Sports followed by 10% or more of Americans in 2016 comprise (alphabetically): Action Sports, Boxing, Figure Skating, Golf, Gymnastics, MLB, MLS, MMA, NASCAR, NBA, NCAA Basketball, NCAA Football, NFL, NHL, Olympics, Soccer (European), Swimming, Tennis, Track and Field, WWE, and X Games.

Changes in media consumption could be dramatic.

  • Sports entities have learned the lessons from digital music and movies. More than 90 percent of sports fans are willing to pay something for sports programming. Those ages 15-36 say they will pay the most, while the oldest sports fans (who grew up accustomed to free sports content on advertising-based TV networks) will pay the least.
  • Mobile devices are already tied with computers as the #2 media platform for consuming sports content, behind TVs. While the youngest users are not yet "mobile first", 65 percent of GenZ and younger Millennial fans are consuming sports content on a mobile device.
  • The market appears strong for over-the-top (OTT) subscription channels. 63 percent of all sports fans are interested in paying for one. The number is even higher for fans with children in the household (70 percent) and intense sports fans (78 percent). And intense sports fans say they will buy 3.5 channels.
  • Sports fans say they will pay more for online streaming channels than for cable/satellite channels. 56% say they are willing to spend a higher proportion of their budget per month for online streaming channels.  
  • Streaming could take even more interesting forms. 32 percent of older Millennials (ages 29-36) said they would watch a sporting event streamed live from someone's mobile phone (via an app such as Periscope or Meerkat).
  • Supplemental sports programming – content beyond game play on the field – is important to fans. 50 percent watch it. And 60% say it's important to them, with younger Millennials leading this category.
  • Snapchat is a top 5 social media source for GenZ and younger Millennial fans. 45% of GenZ fans and 23% of younger Millennial fans consume sports-related content and information on the mobile app. This is surprising strength for a relatively new entrant.

Most sports fans don't hate ads, and some younger sports fans find it useful.

  • A majority of sports fans are either neutral (44 percent) or positive (12%) when asked if advertising enhances or detracts from their sports viewing experience. And 21 percent of those under 18 say that advertising around sports programming enhances their sports viewing experience. 44% of sports fans said advertising detracts somewhat or a lot from their experience, with the largest group (63 percent) being ages 69-74.
  • For brand advertising, sports fans prefer television commercials aired during commercial breaks to other approaches. 64 percent prefer TV spots, compared to 20 percent for in-game graphics and 14 percent for on-air mentions.
  • Positive sentiment about ads skews young. 37% of GenZ fans and 35% of younger Millennials say they like advertising during sports programming and tend to watch it. And 50 percent / 56 percent respectively say they believe advertising gives them "useful information about products and services."

The findings announced today build on previews shared with the IEG 2016 sports sponsorship conference and the 4As Transformation advertising conference.

#SCORE 2016 has deep cuts of data by every sport, cross-tabbed against every demographic category, and can be customized for private briefings. Private briefings are available for leagues, teams, brands, media companies, technology companies, agencies, facilities owners, and local and state governments. To schedule a briefing, please contact Phoebe Schramm at

Methodology note: This survey was sampled nationally between Jan. 6 to Feb. 2, 2016. Respondents were age 15-74, living in the U.S., and the survey was conducted in English. The results are based on the responses of 1005 individuals and the margin of error is 3.1 percent.

USC Annenberg's Center for the Digital Future has been studying consumers' digital behavior for more than 15 years and has predicted significant shifts in both consumer behavior and business climate, including the demise of home-based land lines and the current difficulties being experienced by once-dominant sports media entities. The Center provides the management of global companies, government leadership, and NGOs with perspective and guidance to keep ahead of trends in the digital realm. The Center is a research and policy institute within the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Its innovative techniques for collecting and analyzing social science employ digital experts, researchers, and strategists who continue to build the definitive body of data and insights on the changing role of online technology and media in our lives. The Center's work includes the Digital Future Project, the World Internet Project, and customized and proprietary studies, consulting and market research.

About ThePostGame and TPG Studios  
ThePostGame's sports lifestyle and culture content reaches more than 40 million people each month across, YouTube, email subscribers, social media fans and followers, and content-distribution partners. As a top sports-focused multi-channel video network (MCN) on YouTube, ThePostGame content has generated more than 1 billion video views. The digital media property's original journalism has won two Associated Press Sports Editors awards and it has consistently been one of ShareThis' Most Shared Sports/Lifestyle Sites since its debut. TPG Studios – the creative services and production division of ThePostGame – serves advertisers and rights holders interested in aligning their brand values with inspiring content. ThePostGame has delivered more than 300 client-funded engagements and partnered with many of the biggest companies in sports and media including the NFL, YouTube, Yahoo, PGA, Samsung, P&G, Panasonic, Toyota, Hyundai, Ford, UFC Gym, Fiat and BP to name a few. For more information on TPG Studios, visit

Media contact: Michele Clarke | 203.912.0560 |

SOURCE USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future