By: Dr. David Bridwell, People Scientist 

March is here so our thoughts have turned to one of the biggest media events this time of year: March Madness. Marketers in particular get excited around this time as March Madness brings in a TV audience, and we were fortunate to have some of our own advertising work there up at the big stage.

But besides basketball, there are some interesting trends that we should be aware of outside of the basketball court. The most obvious is the decline in the  number of people that are reported to be watching the tournament. This has dropped by 25 over the last four years, and a lot of this drop is a result of the accompanying drop in the number of people saying they’re going to watch the game on the old fashioned TV. 

Now this might at first appear alarming from a media perspective, until you realize that many are still watching from cable and satellite and streaming services. But there’s a larger trend that seems to be in play and that’s the drop in overall viewership of sports itself. We’re seeing that the average age of the viewer across many different platforms continues to increase. 

For example, the Sports Business Journal recently reported increases in the average age of viewers (going from 2006 to 1016) across a range of sports including golf, tennis, NASCAR, baseball, basketball, soccer, and boxing. The shifting demographics of sports viewers likely reflects the lack of interest among the younger generation in watching sports, representing a shift in where audiences are directing their attention across platforms. Gen Z simply isn’t watching sports at the same rate as their parents and they’d rather watch short segments rather than the full program. 

This means that sports biggest competitor might not be other options on linear TV or even other streaming options. Instead, sports biggest competitor might be all the different ways that younger audiences have learned to direct their media attention. This includes not just the well established social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, but also new and emerging social media platforms like TikTok. They’ve gravitated to content that is more engaging and that allows them to be involved in the action themselves. 

What can marketers do with this information? Well, recognizing the diverse way consumers pay attention is a great start. Understand that your audience’s attention may shift away from linear TV and even from streaming as new platforms for engagement pop up and draw users attention. 

Be sure to reach your audiences where they are with the message that’s appropriate for that context, and you’re on your way to introducing your brand to someone new. Intermark Group, of course, would be happy to help, so give us a call at 833-578-1314 or email us at to discuss.

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