Decline in sports viewership threatens sports leagues

In a year as crazy as this one has been, it may not come as a surprise that sports viewership is down. But when you look further into it, the recent drop in viewership may be more concerning than you think.

For starters, the NBA and NFL, which are the most popular sports in the U.S., have seen a decline in ratings this season. The NFL ratings are not down much, but the NBA saw a significant decrease in viewership for this year’s playoffs compared to past years.

It’s not just those two leagues though. The MLB and NHL have seen viewership drop for years now. The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs dropped 38% in terms of viewership from last year, according to a Sports Illustrated article written by Jimmy Traina.

In the same article, he notes that Games 1 and 2 of this year’s ALCS in the MLB playoffs are officially the two least-watched LCS games ever.

Well, why?

There is no one single answer. It could be because of COVID-19, no fans, it being an election year or maybe even the recent activism displayed by most leagues have rubbed some viewers the wrong way.

It could be any of these things, but in my opinion, the problem of less viewership in sports goes deeper than that.

According to an article by Alex Silverman of Morning Consult, the decline in viewership may be tied to the decreasing number of sports fans among Gen-Z.

Generation Z, the generation that came after millennials, is not as interested in sports as the generations that came before it. In the article by Silverman, it was revealed that only 53% of Gen-Z identify as sports fans, compared to 63% of all adults and 69% of millennials.

When asked if they consider themselves casual fans of sports leagues, the percentage of Gen-Zers that said yes were lower than all other adults in every single category, except one: e-sports.

In fact, Gen-Zers are twice as likely to never watch live sports than millennials.

Leagues across U.S. need to try to change this, or it could have serious implications for sports leagues.

ALEX PEPKE
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