Jul 30 2019
Social media has come to dominate Gen Z and Millennials’ sports media consumption. We’ve said before that streaming and social media are impacting live sports viewing for young consumers—in fact, when we asked how they actually watch the league or sport that they follow in our most recent survey on sports and athletics, one in five 13-37-year-olds said they do so by following along with social media posts. But social is also taking over their sports consumption in other ways. The majority of young consumers tell us that they don’t need to watch sports games live to keep up with what’s going on, and when we asked where they go to look up sports news, standings, or scores, 32% say social media feeds, making social media the second highest response, after search engines. Cable news channels and broadcast news channels rank fourth and fifth, respectively. So, social media has taken over as their go-to source for sports information.
To find out exactly where they’re getting their sports news on social, we asked young consumers, “What accounts do you follow specifically for sports news?” Here are their top 16 responses:
*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of social media accounts that Millennials and Gen Z say are their sources for sports news—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The lists are ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.
Team accounts are their top source of sports news on social media. Of course, our young respondents were fans of many different teams—but following their individual favorite teams’ social media accounts is a top way they’re accessing information about the games and athletes they care about. The high ranking of team accounts, the inclusion of many league and fan accounts, and the following of sports writers and analysts shows that young sports fans are using social media to curate their own personalized sports news, based on the teams and leagues that they care about. While sports media is covering a huge amount of content, these young consumers are tailoring sports coverage to focus in on their particular interests.
ESPN is the top “traditional” source for sports news on social media, ranking at number two on the list, and Fox Sports and SportsCenter are the only other TV-rooted accounts on the ranking. In addition to the social media presence of teams that these media players need to contend with, there is also a slew of newer, social-based sports media enterprises that are gaining clout. Take Bleacher Report, which outranks both Fox Sports and SportsCenter on the list. Many others are also consuming content from the Bleacher Report-owned social media brand that you can find sandwiched between the MLB and the NHL at number 15, House of Highlights. The brand’s strongest channel is on Instagram, which has over 13 million followers, while their YouTube channel—which they only started last year—already has over one million subscribers. Luckily for brands looking to reach the publication’s young target audience, Fast Company reports they create plenty of co-branded content while Insider adds that some of their advertorial stories garner more engagement than their organic ones.
General responses of social media platforms also made the ranking, with Facebook ringing in at number three, Instagram at number six, and Twitter at seven. We can infer here that Gen Z & Millennials are following multiple accounts on these platforms that deliver sports information to their feeds, potentially including posts from friends and family.
Interestingly, though YPulse’s data shows that 32% of 13-36-year-olds and 39% of 13-36-year-old males follow athletes on social networks, athlete’s accounts were not named as a top source of sports news—which indicates that those who follow athletes are doing so for other entertainment purposes, whether that be inspiration or interest in their personal lives.
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