A data from Nielsen revealing a 9% decline in millennial ratings for the NFL 2016-17 Season caused sports executives to panic. In fact, this has led many to believe that the millennial generation is disengaged from live sports and the aging sports audience may soon begin the decline of a once loved pastime.
But millennials have proven that they are also sports fans. The only difference is that they are fans with short attention spans. Although 45% of Generation X fans watch sports closely than 38% of millennials, this gap is leveled out when it comes to sports that this generation loves:
Soccer is the most loved sport in the world that even millennials who are generally less interested in televised sports matches take the time to watch soccer games. In fact, even the younger generation Z is showing 50% more interest in soccer than older generations.
Aside from television, millennials often take to social media to get updates about their favorite soccer teams and thanks to platforms like Instagram and Facebook, they can also follow the lives of their favorite players and even interact with them. A study by Bleacher Report even revealed that 1 in 3 millennial sports fans have tried placing a bet on their favorite team and have probably read websites like nostrabet.com to pick up some tricks.
While most millennials would probably not know anything about the Tour de France, a lot of them are taking interest in cycling as both an alternative form of transportation and a fun way to burn some calories. In fact, at least one third of the millennial and generation Z population said that they have ridden a bike in the past year. A lot of young commuters also choose to bike to work rather than drive, which adds up to the number of millennials loving cycling as a sport.
This probably comes as no surprise since basketball is loved by almost every generation. But millennials have a special love affair with the sport, as evidenced by 45% of NBA’s audience being under the age of 35, according to The Atlantic. This means that millennials make up the foundation of basketball fans today. But why is the sport particularly appealing to this generation.
For one, basketball is relatively newer compared to other sports like baseball. The sport is also widely marketed in different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube allowing millennial fans to be constantly updated with their favorite teams and players no matter where they are in the world. This is evidenced by NBA’s huge following in its social media platforms where it has 30 million followers on Facebook, 21 million on Twitter and 15 million on Instagram.
Studies also revealed that millennials love how basketball is more personal because only five players are presented at a time compared to football, for instance, where there are 53 players on a roster.
So, now that we know what sports millennials love, let’s take a look at the players who matter most for this generation:
FC Barcelona’s captain is a superstar both on and off the field, thanks to his good looks and his otherworldly football skills. Considered as the best football player in the world, Messi has won five Ballon d’Or awards and five European Golden Shoes. Messi also has a strong following on social media, especially on Instagram where he has over 120 million followers, most of which are millennials.
Millennials who follow the NFL place their bets on Justin James Watt, the defensive player of the Houston Texans. The 11th first round draft pick has received three AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in his first five seasons making him a force-to-be-reckon with on the field. J.J Watt is also making it big on social media where some 3.5 million fans follow his every move.
Popularly known as “The Millville Meteor,” Mike Trout is the baseball center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels in Major League Baseball. Millennial fans who follow the MLB love Trout, and for good reason. He has won six Silver Slugger Awards, two American League Most Valuable Player award and a seven-time MLB All-Star.
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the most popular player for millennials, Stephen Curry. The six-time NBA All-star and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player has led the Golden State Warriors to three championships and his 23.5 million Instagram followers is proof that he is indeed the player who matters the most to millennial sports fans.