Consuming Sport: Fans, Sport and Culture

Consuming Sport: Fans, Fandom and the Audience
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Ratings for major sports have dropped over the past two years, raising fears of a millennial exodus from TV. Studio shows such as Pardon the Interruption and SportsCenter were even harder hit, losing double-digit percentages in Sports are holding up better than TV viewership overall; for example, in May , total day ratings including sports were down 14 percent for broadcast networks and 9 percent for cable networks versus the prior year, according to MoffettNathanson analysis.

However, that comparison provides little comfort.

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Sports are more dependent on live viewing than are other categories of video entertainment, which can recoup some of the lost TV engagement from time-shifted DVR replays and video on demand. Dramas and comedies have also benefited more from over-the-top services, such as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix, as an additional window for time-shifted viewing. At the same time, the TV audience for most sports is aging faster than the US population.

For comparison, the average American is 2. However, TV ratings for sports have significant upside 5 percent to 20 percent, depending on the event from out-of-home viewing, based on new Nielsen measurements for bars, restaurants, hotels.

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Out-of-home sports viewers also tend to be younger, which could change our view of the speed at which audiences are aging. New measurements of digital viewing could also provide more precision, but they are unlikely to change the overall conclusion: as fans go digital, they shift to shorter sessions fragmented among proliferating viewing options.

From our analysis of Nielsen data, in the — regular season, National Football League NFL ratings among millennials declined 9 percent. However, the number of millennials watching the NFL actually increased from the prior season from 65 percent to 67 percent of all millennials.

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The ratings decline was caused by an 8 percent drop in the number of games watched and a 6 percent decline in the minutes watched per game down to 1 hour 12 minutes per game. In a world with so many sports options across so many screens, sports fans of all ages are clicking away from low-stakes or lopsided games. As sports executives seek to build new direct-to-consumer channels, we find that age is an ineffective way to segment and target digital sports fans. The following are a few important findings:. Millennials are sports fans too.

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Online survey of adults, ages 18—53, June We defined fans as those watching or following sports at least once every two weeks. Exhibit 1.

Furthermore, the gender gap is closing: 45 percent of millennial sports fans are women versus 41 percent for Generation X. Most millennials have cable. As of November , 78 percent of millennials had cable, satellite, or telco TV service at home, according to Nielsen. They watched 28 percent fewer hours per week of TV in than people their age did in , whereas Generation X viewing slipped by only 8 percent over the same period.

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The following extract chapter eight considers the social importance of sport related consumption. This chapter considers the social importance of sport related consumption. It argues that consumption should not be seen as an end product and outcome of processes of production, but rather as an active process, which can involve the production of meanings, further consumable texts and can also play a significant role in the users' construction of identity.

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However, as argued throughout this book, it is suggested that focus needs to move away from this linear model of power and consider how consumer goods are experienced, utilized and located in the everyday patterns of their users. This is not to say that social power is not significant to this discussion, and moreover, this chapter suggests that the increased importance of surveillance and spectacle in late-capitalist society makes questions of social power relations even more pertinent to the consideration of patterns of consumption.

In particular, this chapter focuses on the theorization of 'performative consumption' offered by Hills , and suggests this is a useful framework for understanding how consumer goods are drawn on and used by individuals in their everyday performances. Finally, this chapter recognizes that access to consumer goods is not necessarily open to everyone in equal measure, and social factors such as ethnicity, gender and social class can help shape patterns of consumption. However, I suggest that academic focus needs to consider not only how social factors can restrict access to certain consumer activities, but also how these can shape the nature of participation within consumer cultures and the use of consumer goods.

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Rubber Legs and White Tail-Hairs. However, within late-capitalist societies, consumers have a much wider range of activities on which to spend their disposable income. Though numerous authors have highlighted that more women are now regularly attending and following sport than probably ever before see Wann et al. Consequently, these changes have led to a fragmentation and collapse of many traditional communities and a decline in the coherence and collective bargaining power of the working classes. Abercrombie and Longhurst suggest there are four major factors that have bought about this diffusion of performance and spectacle into everyday life. As they state: 6 Part I Old-style occupational communities have been undermined by the atomization of the worker; by higher wages and consumerism; by reduced work time; by individual mobility and changed residence patterns; and by the increased availability of highly differentiated consumer goods

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