As Sports Viewers Skew Older, eSports Is Youngest

Manny Anekal
Jun 14, 2017 · 3 min read
The eSports Audience: Younger Than Sports (Photo: Riot Games)
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TNL Take: Recently Magna Global in a study for the SportsBusiness Journal used Nielsen data across 24 sports to analyze how the median viewership ages have changed from 2000–2016.

“Going gray: Sports TV viewers skew older” (Source/Photo: SportsBusiness Journal)

It’s a great article filled with actual data and worth your time to read but a quick TL/DR:

  • Headline “Going gray: Sports TV viewers skew older”
  • The median age for Golf is ~60
  • The NHL saw the biggest increase in media age increase (+16 years) from 2000 to 49
  • 3 of the 4 major US sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NHL) are ~50 or higher

Why wouldn’t they include eSports?

No data going back to 2000, only 1 data point from 2006 (MLG on USA Network) and no 100% apples-to-apples to comparison for eSports in 2016 yet. So all fair points.

But I was curious so I did it anyways.

Here’s how Sports viewership on TV compares with eSports on TV:

TNL Infographic 046: Sports vs. eSports TV Viewership Median Age (Source: Magna/SBJ/Nielsen Infographic: Jordan Fragen)

Before we get into the data a few HUGE caveats:

  • The Magna Global/SBJ data is quantitative Nielsen data over time. The 32 median age for eSports is based on Nielsen’s 2016 eSports report which is a survey. So while not a true exact comparison, it’s the closest publicly released data point available.
  • I won’t even compare major Sports viewership vs. eSports — it’s not even close
  • While eSports viewers are almost 2 decades younger than an NFL viewer, the ad revenue is the size of an ant compared to the blue whale money machine of football

So how close can we get to accurate data?

Let’s say…you may hear some news shortly. But there are a 2 additional data points I can add:

  • There have been 50+ eSports programs on TV in the US from 2016 to today
  • The average of those 50+ programs is ~55% within the 18–49 demo

While that still doesn’t give us a definitive median age for eSports on TV, the current data falls closely to the 32 survey age.

However, I didn’t include this point in the chart to avoid confusing digital and TV — please stop that already — but in terms of media and eSports future, I believe it’s important:

While the median age of eSports on TV is ~32, the media age on streaming platforms is even lower at 25

TV is a $70B+ industry in the US. The NBA Finals draw 20M+ viewers — which has increased for the past 3 years. TV is not disappearing anytime soon especially with digital media mired in the “programmatic/DSP/SSP, it’s-not-adtech-its-martech, brand safety, what’s-a-view-exactly” mud.

But if your target audience is 18–49 and you believe that moving (1) :30 second commercial spot for $250,000 to eSports is not worth your time — your competitors will.

Thanks for sharing your time! Hit the ❤️ if you liked this.

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The Business Of eSports

Manny Anekal

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esports. Founder and CEO: The Next Level (Media), Versus Sports (Team), and Versus Consulting. Podcast →

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The Business Of eSports

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