Connecting with the Australian Sports Fan

Connecting with the Australian Sports Fan

Australians love sport. And the ways in which they engage with sport is changing before our eyes. There are new ways to watch, new ways to connect and the audience demographic is also changing.

Nielsen Digital Ratings (Monthly) in July 2017 reported 11.4 million Australians consumed sports content on their smartphone, desktop or tablet during July 2017, a 6% increase when compared to June 2017. And the number of females who went online for sports-related content during July 2017 grew by 10%, compared to 3% growth for males versus the prior month.

Despite the growth in females audience, sports content online is reached by both men and women in almost equal numbers. However, the time they spend online consuming sports-related content tells a very different story. During the month of July, males spent close to three hours (2 hours, 58 mins) consuming sport-related content online, compared to just 45 mins by females. 

The preferred screen of choice for 3.9 million Australian males and 3.0 million females was desktop. However, when looking at engagement, males spent a significantly greater time engaging with sports via smartphone – 2 hours, 55 minutes compared to 55 mins for females.

Sport content is an incredibly powerful way to reach both men and (increasingly) women online. However, in terms of engagement, it’s a fantastic place to reach a highly-engaged male audience.

Nielsen Social Content Ratings data revealed that men are more likely to author content related to AFL and NRL on Facebook. However, women are more likely to engage with content on Facebook that relates to these two codes. For example, so far in 2017 in the AFL, women make up almost 58% of social engagement on Facebook, (March – July 2017).

Australia’s interest in women-specific sport leagues (AFL, Soccer, Netball, Cricket, basketball) is also growing considerably. In Q2 2017, Nielsen Sports data found that 54% of Australians said they were interested in a women’s sport league – up from 51% in Q1 2017. There is also strong cross-over between men’s and women’s sport. During Q2 2017, eight-in-10 people who said they were interested in the men’s AFL, also said they were consumers of women’s AFL Women’s – an increase of 5% from Q1 2017.


When it comes to sports brands, Telstra Media AFL attracted the most people to their online content with a unique audience of 4.3 million Australians during July 17, up 11% compared to the previous month. In second place was ESPN Digital Network with 2.6 million people, (+14%), followed by AFL Live Official App with 2 million people, (+9%).

Fourth place was – sport (+35%), fifth place was Telstra Media NRL (4%), sixth was FOX SPORTS (+13%), seventh was ESPN Footytips (+2%) and eighth place was MSN Sports, (+50%).

ESPN remained in ninth position with a unique audience of 1.0 million (+30%), followed by NRL Official App in tenth place with a unique audience of 1.0 million (-4%).

Across participating publishers under measurement in Digital Content Ratings, Sundays attracted the most people to sports content online in July 2017. During the month, the highest peak average daily unique audience was achieved by Telstra Media AFL was 649K, followed by – Sport with 584K and Fox Sports with  458K.