May 8, 2020

Survey | Teams may be facing long-term attendance challenge

SBJ Atlas

A survey by Kantar Sports MONITOR, which examined sports fans’ attitudes about the COVID-19 pandemic, found that 76% of sports fans are having their daily routine either extremely or very interrupted by the pandemic, compared to 61% of non-sports fans.

The survey, exclusive to SportsAtlas, was fielded April 23-29 among 2,000 Americans. It also found that while 26% of fans indicate that they’ll go to sporting events as soon as it’s allowed, two-thirds say they’ll only do so if they’re sure it’s safe (45%) or won’t go until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed (20%). And an additional 8% of sports fans say they won’t go to sporting events anymore, which – while a low number – would represent a sizable hit to teams’ bottom lines if they follow through with this sentiment.

Other areas addressed in the survey included:

What effect has the arrival of COVID-19 had on sports fans outlook and lifestyle?

Like most Americans, sports fans are feeling a major sense of disruption in virtually all facets of life (sports fans vs. non-sports fans):

  • Daily routine extremely/very disrupted: 76% vs. 61% of non-sports fans.
  • Believe coronavirus is equally or more disruptive than 9/11: 72% vs. 64% of non-sports fans.
  • Believe coronavirus is equally or more disruptive than The Great Recession: 76% vs. 64% of non-sports fans.
  • 67% of sports fans are very/somewhat worried about their personal health (vs. 55% of non-sports fans).
  • 35% of sports fans are working more than before the coronavirus (vs. 18% of non-sports fans).
  • 33% are making less money than before the coronavirus (vs. 29% of non-sports fans).
  • 43% are feeling less secure in their jobs due to the coronavirus (vs. 37% of non-sports fans).
  • 81% of sports fans are concerned about the impact of the coronavirus in their local community (vs. 67% of non-sports fans).
  • 46% of sports fans agree, “The coronavirus is having a much worse impact in the city/town where I live than in most places in the country” (vs. 36% of non-sports fans).
  • 33% of sports fans say they’ve recently gotten into a serious argument or disagreement about social distancing (vs. 26% of non-sports fans).
  • 84% of sports fans who are parents say they are very/somewhat involved in their children’s education while they’re out of school (vs. 62% of non-sports fan parents).
  • 63% of sports fans agree, “The coronavirus will change the way I shop, even when it is over” (vs. 55% of non-sports fans).
  • 71% of sports fans agree, “The federal government’s response to the coronavirus will play a big role in my vote for President in this year’s election” (vs. 63% of non-sports fans).

How are sports fans feeling overall in a sheltering-in-place world? What do they miss most?

It’s a mixed picture. Overall, sports fans are feeling similar to the rest of the population when it comes to their emotional state. In order, their top emotions associated with COVID-19 are: 1) Frustration (52%), 2) Worry (51%), and 3) Anxiety (43%).

They miss the following most about normal life:

  • Social interaction: 42% to 33% of non-sports fans.
  • Big plans: 39% to 42% of non-sports fans.
  • Income: 35% to 48% of non-sports fans.

They’re particularly looking forward to traveling, going to restaurants and spending time with family and friends.

Yet, despite all of the stress, many sports fans are maintaining a positive attitude: 47% of sports fans say that being at home so much has been either very or mostly positive (vs. 37% of non-sports fans). Just 13% say it’s been very or mostly negative (vs. 18% of non-sports fans). 

How has COVID-19 affected sports fans’ financial picture?

While sports fans have a healthier financial picture than non-sports fans, they’re experiencing significant financial strain due to the arrival of the coronavirus:

  • 57% say they expect a recession in the next year and have already altered their spending and saving habits (vs. 47% of non-sports fans); an additional 21% of sports fans expect a recession in the next year but haven’t altered their spending.
  • 76% say they’re spending as little as possible until the coronavirus crisis passes (vs. 75% of non-sports fans).
  • 27% agree, “I’m on the verge of financial ruin because of the coronavirus” (vs. 19% of non-sports fans).

How are sports fans feeling about the absence of sports in their lives?

  • 75% say they miss sports either very much (39%) or somewhat (36%).
  • Of sports fans who don’t miss sports, 39% say the reason is that they’ve been focused on other, more important issues in their life: 1) 38% say they’ve found other ways to entertain themselves, and 2) Just 5% have replaced sports with esports.
  • They’re far more interested in watching sports on TV vs. going to the sporting events (see Kantar infographic below for details).

How do sports fans feel about going to sporting events in person?

Hygiene expectations will rise across the board:
  • 62% of sports fans agree, “No matter what the product is, I will pay more if I know it’s clean and sanitized” (vs. 53% of non-sports fans).
  • 75% of sports fans believe it’s somewhat/very likely in five years that, “People will no longer shake hands.”
  • 68% of sports fans believe it’s somewhat/very likely in five years that, “Facemasks will be a normal part of public life in America” (vs. 61% of non-sports fans).
  • 37% of sports fans are extremely or very worried about cash exposing them to the coronavirus (vs. 20% of non-sports fans).
Online usage for social interaction/work/purchasing will only expand:
  • 87% expect in five years from now that working from home will be widely accepted (vs. 82% of non-sports fans).
  • 78% expect in five years that most people will do most of their shopping online (vs. 75% of non-sports fans).
  • 68% of sports fans agree, “Buying things online during the coronavirus has been more convenient than I expected” (vs. 60% of non-sports fans).
  • 47% of sports fans have learned how to use videoconferencing tools since the coronavirus (vs. 34% of non-sports fans).
More “Pet Days” at ballparks?!?:
  • 14% of sports fans say they’ve adopted a new pet since the coronavirus (vs. 8% of non-sports fans).