It’s no secret that Americans love sports. But much like real relationships, this amour is a sometimes complicated dance between fans, teams and players that can bring immense joy or deep heartbreak. No matter what, however, the love and desire for viewing sports content endures all—even the agony of defeat.
Consider this: In the last 10 years, the available hours of sports programming has increased by 232 percent, according to Nielsen’s 2013 Year in Sports Media Report. Not only are there more sports-focused channels available to viewers, non-sports networks have also added sports content to their lineups. And with more sports programming out there tugging at viewers’ heartstrings, Americans clocked 33 billion hours watching sports on TV in 2013.
What’s more, viewing sports is an opportunity to be social, whether watching with pals in the stadium or alone online, fans need to gab about it. Even though sports events only accounted for 1.2 percent of all TV programming, conversations about sports made up nearly half of all Tweets about TV (49.7%).
Americans’ affinity for sports also spreads across screens, as more people accessed sports content and spent more time with that content on their computers and mobile phones in 2013 than in the prior year. During April and September 2013, both major sports months, the amount of time Americans spent visiting a sports site from a computer increased 42 and 25 percent, respectively. The proliferation of digital device ownership, especially smartphones, contributed to more people using mobile phones to access sports content (up 47% in April and up 22% in September). During both months, consumers spent 15 percent more time accessing sports content on a mobile phone than they did during the same months last year.
“I’m continually amazed at fans’ level of engagement with sports content—it’s like they can’t get enough,” said Stephen Master, Senior Vice President Sports, Nielsen. “Regardless of what device or screen consumers use to access it, sports remains one of the most captivating genres of programming and is well-positioned to thrive in this increasingly fragmented media marketplace.”
For more information on the media and buying habits of sports consumers, download Nielsen’s 2013 Year in Sports Media Report.