Since early March, major sports organizations around the world have been cancelling or rescheduling their competitions in droves. The Olympics has been pushed back a year, and time for Spring baseball is rapidly disappearing.

Some of these announcements have come at more frustrating times for fans: March Madness was cancelled just days before it was set to begin, and Liverpool F.C. had their season suspended 2 games before their first championship in decades.

While these decisions have been made to benefit the health and safety of players and fans alike, they’ve undoubtedly left some fans feeling disheartened. In turn, many sports marketers have ramped up their online presence to cater to their increasingly at-home audiences. Yet, among the flood of game highlights and COVID-19 updates, what kind of content resonates most? 

Surveying over 4,000 internet users in the U.S. and UK with dedicated research into the impact of COVID-19, fielded March 25th-30th, here’s a snapshot of what we know about sports fans.

Our data shows people may be growing tired of the negativity surrounding their news consumption. Over half of all respondents say that they want to see more positive stories in the news, and nearly one-third want to see more stories unrelated to the outbreak.

Across the board, people are consuming more and more media as social distancing measures continue. From the third week of March, to the first week of April, consumers in the U.S. and UK who say they’re spending longer on social media have grown by 40%. 

So it’s no surprise that sports fans are turning to their favorite leagues and teams on social media for updates, comfort, and entertainment during this time. 

U.S. sports fans are looking for media that brings them closer to the athletes and teams they love. 

When asked what they want to see from these teams, those seeking content from sports organizations in the U.S. were over 25% more likely to say they wanted exclusive content, behind-the-scenes views of their teams, or interactions with the athletes. 

In the UK, fans seeking sports-related content are more nostalgic for the actual matchplay, and are 20% more likely to say they want to see highlights from their favorite teams during their country’s lockdown. 

Globally, the content that sports fans seek from their favorite teams is driven mostly by their age. While older generations want existing content, like archived game footage and highlights, younger generations seem more focused on new content.

Gen Z are nearly 60% more likely than the average internet user to want sports-focused video game tournaments to fill their time during the outbreak, and millennials are over 50% more likely to say they want to see behind-the-scenes content or live chats with athletes. 

On the other hand, Gen X are over 40% more likely than average to say that they want to see archived content, while baby boomers are over 30% more likely to say they want to see highlights from their favorite teams. 

Scrolling through Instagram and Facebook, it’s clear that many organizations are already posting a combination of these types of content with some creative twists.

The NCAA has created a bracket competition of the best highlights in the tournament’s history, the Premier League is posting videos of social-distance-style team workouts, and athletes around the world are posting TikTok dances and offering glimpses into their private lives. 

At the end of the day, no matter the ratio of new versus old content organizations are putting out, it’s important that sports teams and leagues offer their fans enough content to escape from the deluge of coronavirus news until we can all return to the stadium.

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