Rand: Sports viewing up 7 billion hours annually in last decade

  • Updated: February 14, 2014 - 12:27 AM
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Cheeseheads led the nation in allegiance to their beloved Packers, the stats say.

Photo: JOSE CARLOS FAJARDO • McClatchy News Services,

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Nielsen, which compiles TV ratings and other data, recently released its Year in Sports Media report for 2013. It is an overwhelming bouquet of nicely presented information, and we will attempt here to distill more than 20 pages into a few hundred words that we found the most interesting:

• According to the report, U.S. viewers consumed more than 33 billion hours of national sports programming in 2013. The only way to make sense of that is with context, and that’s up from 26 billion hours just 10 years ago. Both of those are huge numbers, but adding 7 billion hours is also a lot. Of course, it helps when there is a 232 percent increase in national sports programming in that same time frame.

• This is fairly obvious for anyone who has ever been on Twitter during a Vikings game or a big national sporting event, but here is the impact of that social media platform, per the report: “In 2013, sports events accounted for only 1.2 percent of all TV programming, yet conversation about sports made up nearly half of all tweets about TV [49.7 percent].” As someone who rarely watches sports on TV without having a laptop or iPhone open to Twitter, this makes perfect sense. It’s the great American virtual sports bar.

• More and more people are using fantasy football apps on their smartphones — 15 percent more in September 2013 than in September 2012, according to the report. The total number of people who used fantasy football apps last September topped 10 million, which again seems like a lot but makes sense when you think about our usage expectations.

• The report listed the top five fan bases in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, as defined by the “percentage of population that has watched, attended or listened to the [home] team in the past 12 months.” No Minnesota teams cracked the top five. The highest percentage in any league? It’s not entirely surprising, but it’s the Packers’ fan base at 88 percent.

• Looking for the leagues of the future? Beat heavy on the NBA, MLS and NHL. A full 45 percent of all NBA television viewers are ages 34 and younger, the highest among all the charted sports and leagues. MLS was next at 40 percent, and the NHL followed at 37 percent. MLB, NCAA football, NCAA men’s basketball and the NFL were all between 24 and 29 percent when it comes to viewers 34 and younger, while motor sports (14 percent) and PGA golf (12 percent) lagged far behind.

michael rand

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