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Edison Says Sports Audio Listeners Are Devoted Fans Who Spend.

Radio and podcasts occupy a major place in the American sports fandom landscape, with 64% of sports fans saying they frequently or occasionally listened to sports audio content throughout the last year — with AM/FM radio the most popular consumption channel.

That’s according to Edison Research’s “Sports Audio Report,” details of which were shared in a webinar last week. The presentation drilled down on the impact and effectiveness of sports audio and took a closer look at its biggest enthusiasts.

“More than half of fans frequently or occasionally listened to sports content on am FM radio over the air or online throughout the year,” explained Gabriel Soto, Senior Director of Research at Edison Research, noting that a third say the same about podcasting.

“Sports audio listeners are different types of beasts,” he said. “Our research confirms what many of us have been thinking for years: sports audio listeners are more likely to be diehard fans.”

Soto was joined on the webinar panel by Melissa Paris, VP of Sales Research at SiriusXM Media, and Jen Soch, Executive Director, Channel Solutions at GroupM US.

The webinar also zeroed in on sports fandom and found that 66% of the U.S. population ages 13+ — an estimated 186 million Americans — consider themselves to be sports fans. And for many, that enthusiasm is rooted in a shared experience: 68% says following sports brings their families closer together.

Among other reasons Americans follow a sports team or athlete, according to the research: provides a sense of community (66%); and makes it easier to connect with others (64%).

The community factor, the panel said, is a key factor in sports audio. The vast majority of respondents said they listen at least some of the time with others. “I think people have this picture of a person listening to audio on their headphones on their own,” Soto said, “but they forget about the in-the-car and at-home environment where people are listening to their favorite audio content, and they’re exposing it to their family members and their friends… Sports listeners spend more time with audio, so they have more chances to listen with others.”

Podcasting Gains Traction In Sports Audio.

Podcasting’s star is on the rise in the world of sports audio, with its share nearly doubling since 2018, according to Edison. Younger listeners are no doubt driving the numbers: By a 3-to-1 ratio, listeners ages 13-34 spend more sports audio listening time with podcasts vs. radio.

They’re also seeking more depth in their content. About half of sports audio listeners say they’re listen to sports audio to hear unique perspectives on sports that are not covered in other media. Among those who listen to sports podcasts, that number leaps to 74%.

“And long gone are the days when current athletes had to wait for retirement to start a career in sports commentating,” Soch said. “So today we have the likes of Jason and Travis Kelce, LeBron James… These athletes are playing out their sports careers by day, and then they’re spending their nights in front of the mic. And that’s giving us really fresh perspectives directly from the locker room. And then we see former players like Shannon Sharpe, Pat McAfee, [NASCAR driver] Dale Earnhardt Jr. and even prominent journalists like Stephen A. Smith. All of them are finding success through podcasts.”

In other findings from the report:

  • What market saturation? Forty percent of sports audio listeners say there aren’t enough audio programs that cover the sports they like or follow, and 40% say there aren’t enough that give different perspectives.

  • These consumers take action: 63% of sports audio listeners have decided to learn more about a company or product after hearing an ad on a sports podcast or sports audio program.

  • And they make purchases: More than half have bought a product or service after hearing an ad on a sports podcast or sports audio program. Sports audio consumers spend an average of $262 per year on sports merchandise memorabilia. Sports podcast listeners spend an average of $321 every year. Sports video viewers spend an average of $185 per year.

  • Podcast purchase intent: 68% of sports podcast consumers are more likely to buy a product or service if they are advertised by an athlete they like or follow, vs. 48% of sports video viewers.

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