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Sports Fans Showing Team Passion Through Robust Audio Habits, New Survey Finds.

Sports fans are passionate about their teams, and about audio. A new study finds they spend six hours and 26 minutes with audio content each day, which is over two hours more than the typical amount of audio listening by the average American. And over 90 minutes of sports fans’ daily audio time is spent listening to sports content specifically, according to the Sports Audio Report, a forthcoming study from Edison Research, SiriusXM Media, and the ad agency GroupM.

In a preview of their findings, SiriusXM VP Melissa Paris says their data shows sports podcasts lead the way for Gen Z and Millennials, while sports radio is the most commonly listened-to among Gen X and Baby Boomers. Across all age groups, the data shows 64% say they frequently or occasionally listen to sports content, while 89% are frequently or occasionally watching sports content.

The findings are based on a survey of more than 3,500 Americans aged 13 and older who self-identify as sports fans. Paris says what brings them to audio is a mix of connection and differentiation. The survey finds 86% of sports listeners say they listen to stay connected to their team or sport, while 58% say it makes them feel they are part of a community. Behind that feeling of connection, listeners also get something they cannot find on video. Two-thirds said they listen to hear unique perspectives on sports that aren’t covered in other media, while six in ten listen to get exclusive content.

The rise of sports betting is also having an impact. The data also shows a majority 52% of sports listeners say they listen to be a more informed sports bettor, and 44% to be a more informed fantasy sports player.

“Compared to sports video viewers, sports audio listeners are bigger spenders,” Paris writes in a blog post. She says sports podcast listeners spend an average of $321 on sports merchandise and memorabilia in a year compared to just $185 for sports video viewers.

There is no shortage of sports podcasts hosted by current and former pro athletes, and the survey finds that offers an opportunity for marketers. Paris says two in three sports fans say they like hearing or seeing their favorite athletes in ads, with 81% of podcast listeners even more accepting of the host-reads. And 46% of sports fans say they would be more likely to buy a product or service if it were advertised by an athlete they like, with two-thirds (68%) of sports podcast listeners more likely to buy.

Paris says that willingness to spend their money is tied to the inherent trust that sports fans have in their favorite players. The survey shows two in three say they trust the products or services used by the athletes they like or follow. 

“This trust is not reserved just for athletes — 64% say they trust the products or services used by a sports commentator or announcer they like or follow,” Paris says. “And these trusted relationships lead to effective ads — over three in four sports fans have taken an action after hearing an ad on a sports podcast or sports audio program, with over half saying they have purchased a product or service that was advertised.”

The Changing Face Of Sports Fans

The forthcoming report also shows an evolution in what sports fans look like. The data shows two in three Americans call themselves sports fans, with 15% saying they are super-fans. While sports fans overall remain mostly white and male, diversity is on display. Paris says the most intense, die-hard fans are more likely to be younger and more diverse than more casual sports fans.

The NFL is the most popular sport or league, followed by college football. But while older generations follow the NFL more closely than Gen Zs, Millennial sports fans are 38% more likely to follow the NBA closely. And both Gen Z and Millennials over-index for following soccer and all fight sports. White and Latino fans over-index for following MLB closely, while Black sports fans are more likely to be fans of basketball. And More Asian fans follow the NBA closely than the NFL.

Paris says more sports aficionados are also keeping tables on what is happening in women’s sports. One in three sports fans (32%) say they currently follow a women’s sports team or a female athlete. Gen Z and Millennials have an even higher interest, as do diverse audiences.

“There is a deep connection between listeners and the audio content they consume, whether it’s music, sports, talk shows, books or podcasts. Many times, audio audiences find content related to their interests and passions, and we know sports fans’ zeal is unmatched,” said Jen Soch, Executive Director of Channel Solutions at GroupM. “Audio is a critical component of holistic media investments, and it needs to be a top consideration for brands looking to extend their reach and overall presence in sports.”

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