Survey: 'Minor' sports have many U.S. fans

Oct. 16, 2011 at 7:31 PM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- More than one-third of U.S. adults say they are very interested in figure skating, gymnastics, men's golf, high-school sports and boxing, a survey found.

Scarborough Sports Marketing said 53 percent of American adults said they are avid fans of at least one major sport, including the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, college football and basketball, NASCAR and the Olympics.

However, Bill Nielsen, vice president of Scarborough Sports Marketing, said while major sports give marketers opportunities to reach the masses, there is value in appealing to fans of other sports.

"... If you only focus there you are missing an important opportunity to market to the 37 percent of Americans who are very interested in sports that fall outside of the usual suspects -- including sports like figure skating, gymnastics, men's golf, high-school sports and professional boxing.

For instance, 73 percent of avid gymnastics fans are female and 81 percent of avid figure skating fans are female. This is a unique demographic makeup since avid fans of sports such as the Olympics, women's tennis and the WNBA -- considered "female friendly" sports -- have 50 percent female fans, so many men watch too, Nielsen said.

Although European soccer, Major League Soccer and Mexican soccer are all have large Hispanic fan bases, pro boxing is the non-soccer sport with the highest percentage of Hispanics avid fans at 35 percent, Nielsen said.

Scarborough Sports Marketing said it measured avidity levels for 41 different sports during March through August so results might be influenced by seasonality.

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