- The NFL created an official account on TikTok as part of a two-year agreement to post content on the social video app that is popular among Generation Z. The content will include highlights, sideline moments and behind-the-scenes footage, per an announcement.
- The league and TikTok are running a hashtag challenge campaign that urges fans to show their pride for their favorite team by creating videos with the #WeReady hashtag through Sept. 5. TikTok creators and NFL teams also will post videos on the social platform ahead of the NFL's 100th season.
- TikTok will celebrate the season's kickoff at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sept. 5. Attendees can experience TikTok in real life and create videos with an NFL theme, per the announcement.
The NFL's partnership with TikTok aims to reach younger audiences who are more likely than older generations to consume video content on mobile devices. Only 41% of Generation Z watches their favorite sports on TV, compared with 75% of baby boomers, per a study by New York University's Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport and Fox Sports. While football is popular for all generations, younger adults show a greater preference for the NBA and Major League Soccer than the general population, pointing to why the NFL is working to recapture these fans.
Younger audiences also seek to avoid sitting through TV commercials while watching sports. More than half (55%) of Gen Z boys and men are frustrated that traditional sports are overloaded with marketing messages, preferring to watch highlights instead full games to avoid ads, a Whistle Sports survey found. The aversion to ads has led Fox Sports to cut the number of commercial breaks for the upcoming Super Bowl to keep viewers engaged, Variety reported. This shift in viewing habits also means that the NFL needs to be on social video platforms like TikTok to reach audiences who prefer snackable content on mobile devices.
As of press time, the NFL's TikTok account had 278,000 followers and 3.3 million likes for the 16 videos posted in the app. The NFL follows other sports leagues in working with TikTok. The NBA and the International Cricket Council have arranged to share highlights and other content on the ByteDance-owned platform that ranked as the fourth-most downloaded app in Q2 2019, behind WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Facebook. Most of TikTok's users are between 16 and 24 years old and spend an average of 45 minutes each day perusing user-generated videos in the app, per IGD RetailAnalysis.
TikTok is gaining attention among brands that aim to reach those younger audiences. Grocery chain Kroger last month created a shoppable campaign for the back-to-school season, while fashion brand Ralph Lauren rolled out a hashtag challenge to coincide with the 2019 U.S. Open tennis tournament. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Grubhub, Guess, Macy's, Sony Pictures and Uniqlo have recently run campaigns and viral challenges on TikTok to engage app users and drum up brand loyalty.