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Major League: Gay and Lesbian Internet Users are Avid Sports Fans
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Major League: Gay and Lesbian Internet Users are Avid Sports Fans

More and more professional athletes are taking the courageous step to come out, publicly highlighting the connection between sports and the gay and lesbian community in important and unprecedented ways.

Gay and lesbian consumers—professional athletes or not—are also sports enthusiasts off the courts and fields. In many ways, they’re bigger aficionados than average fans. For instance, adult gay and lesbian Internet users are 11 percent more likely than the average adult online to attend pro sporting events, according to Nielsen, and 7 percent more likely to participate in an adult sports league.

Gay and lesbian adults are 51 percent more likely than the average adult to watch sports-related videos online and 28 percent more likely to boot up their computer to get their sports news. They’re also big fans of fantasy sports, as they’re 39 percent more likely to play fantasy sports online than the average adult Internet user.

2012 Sports-Related Activities Among Gay/Lesbian Internet Users

Activity Index vs. Online 18+
Watched sports video online 151
Played fantasy sports online 139
Read sports news online 128
Purchased a sports event ticket online 119
Attended a professional sports event 111
Participated in an adult sports league 107
Read as: Adult gay/lesbian Internet users are 51 percent more likely than the average adult online to have watched sports video online.
Source: Nielsen

An analysis of the top U.S. sports sites found a high concentration of adult gay and lesbian visitors during the first quarter of 2013, meaning these consumers represented a larger share of each site’s audience than their share of the overall online population. Among the top sports sites in the U.S., SB Nation had the highest concentration of gay and lesbian visitors. The site’s share of gay and lesbian visitors during Q1 2013 was more than double that of the online average. MLB.com also showed a high proportion of gay and lesbian visitors, as the site’s gay and lesbian audience was 73 percent higher than the that of the overall online population. Bleacher Report and CBS Sports followed, over-indexing on gay and lesbian visitors by 69 and 65 percent, respectively.

Top U.S. Sports Sites* – Gay and Lesbian Visitor Profile

Brand or Channel Index vs. Online 18+
Yahoo! Sports Websites 134
ESPN Digital Network 117
FOXSports.com on MSN (Network) 145
Big Lead Sports by FSV Network 152
MLB.com 173
CBS Sports 165
NFL Internet Network 118
Bleacher Report 169
Sports Illustrated Sites 151
SB Nation 205
Read as: During Q1 2013, visitors to Yahoo! Sports websites were 34 percent more likely to be gay/lesbian compared to the overall gay/lesbian online population.
*Top 10 U.S. Sports sites during April 2013.
Source: Nielsen

Besides being sports and online-savvy, gay and lesbian consumers also wield tremendous buying power. Advertisers, retailers and publishers should recognize this value and seize the opportunity to engage this growing and influential audience.