- Fifty-two percent of Gen Z males ages 13 to 21, spend more time following nontraditional sports than traditional sports, according to a new study by sports entertainment media brand Whistle Sports provided to Marketing Dive. Nontraditional sports are those outside of football, baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer, like competitive gaming, obstacle courses and trick shots.
- Gen Z men report being frustrated that traditional sports are overloaded with marketing messages, and 55% say they watch highlights to avoid ads, compared to 45% who watch full games. Sixty-nine percent said brands are welcome in nontraditional sports, and 57% think it’s important for companies to sponsor, advertise and support the sports that they watch.
- When it comes to how sports are perceived, 90% of Gen Z males say there are many definitions of sports today, and 56% think nontraditional sports are more relevant to their generation.
The Whistle Sports research reveals that Gen Z males aren't necessarily averse to ads and welcome them in nontraditional sports, but their frustration with being bombarded with marketing messages in traditional sports should encourage marketers to look for innovative ways to reach them. Focusing on nontraditional sports — and nontraditional marketing methods — could help marketers build brand loyalty and purchase consideration with Gen Zers.
The research finding that Gen Z males are migrating from traditional sports to nontraditional sports aligns with a Google report released in February showing a 50% increase in time spent watching funny sports content and 60% increase in watch time for interview sports content on YouTube. Watch time for game highlights increased 80% over the past year. The study also revealed that sports fans want to watch sports on their on terms, which means using multiple screens and watching across platforms.
Traditional sports leagues are working on enhancing their digital offerings to attract Gen Zers, who tend to be more inclusive, progressive and tech-savvy. This season the NFL has expanded access to games on digital platforms, and as of week four in the current season, viewership on digital platforms had increased 65% from 2017, according to the league.
Meanwhile, Facebook and YouTube have addressed the growing interest in nontraditional sports by launching gaming platforms that compete with Amazon's Twitch, the video game video platform that has an average of 15 million daily active users and has frequently partnered with brands. Twitch viewership has grown 51% to 45 billion minutes a month in 2018 from a year earlier, and the number of individual broadcasters has jumped 61% to 3.2 million, according to Twitch data.