MRI-Simmons Study Reveals Emotional Impact of COVID-19 on Sports Fans

Latest Sports Fan Study provides insight into the attitudes and behaviors of ‘Sports Deprived” Americans

NEW YORK, July 14, 2020 -- MRI-Simmons, the essential consumer truth set, today announced the results of its latest Sports Fan Study, providing marketers with in-depth analysis of sports fandom in the United States. Among its many findings, the study revealed that 64% of Americans miss sports that have been postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19. This new consumer segment, aptly named “Sports Deprived”, skews male (58%), married (54%), and has a median age of 47. Additionally, these Americans reported feelings of being disconnected, sad and frustrated, a clear sign of the emotional toll that COVID-19 has wreaked upon sports fans.

Emotional Impact

The Sports Deprived group has strong emotions tied to the impact of COVID-19; 32% feel disconnected, 29% feel sad and 26% feel frustrated over the lack of sports in their lives. In addition, 56% actively worry about the future of their favorite athletes/teams/leagues and over a quarter have “lost the common language” they share with those around them.


Which of the following best describes how you feel without​ live sporting events and games?​
Base = Total Adults
Sports Deprived =
miss sports very much/somewhat/slightly

Source: MRI-Simmons Sports Fan Study, June 2020

Adults 18+

Sports Deprived

Disconnected

22%

32%

Sad

19%

29%

Frustrated

17%

26%

Depressed/anxious

8%

12%

Free

7%

8%

Happy

7%

7%

Just like many Americans miss basic socialization due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ‘Sports Deprived’ fans miss the socialization and bonding aspects of watching sports. Thirty-one percent of the segment cite “being able to watch/spend time with friends and family” as the thing they miss the most. These fans also miss “being able to talk with others about the game” (10%), and “the sense of community it provides” (6%).


What do you miss the most about live sporting events and games?
Base = Total adults​
Sports Deprived =
miss sports very much/somewhat/slightly

Source: MRI-Simmons Sports Fan Study, June 2020

Adults 18+

Sports Deprived

Being able to watch/spend time with friends & family

20%

31%

Helping provide an escape from other things

10%

15%

The suspense & thrill

9%

14%

The healthy competition and rivalry

8%

13%

Being able to talk with others about the game

7%

10%

Traditions I have for game day (tailgating, watch-parties)

6%

9%

The sense of community it provides

4%

6%

Other

2%

2%

Media Behavior

To fill the gap, sports fans and the “Sports Deprived” are spending time watching sports-related content on TV, especially classic games/events (38%), sports documentaries (32%), and sports-related movies (28%). When the pandemic finally passes, over one-third of the Sports Deprived segment will watch whatever sport comes back first.


Which of the following types of sports content are you interested in watching while live sports are paused/ currently off the air?​
Base = Total Adults​

Source: MRI-Simmons Sports Fan Study, June 2020

Adults 18+

Sports Deprived

Classic games/events from my favorite sport

28%

38%

Sports documentaries

20%

32%

Sports-related movies

19%

28%

A full season from sport that I haven't previously followed

8%

12%

Esports tournaments

8%

11%

Other

2%

2%

To say that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the sports world would be an understatement, and the Sports Deprived segment is a group of Americans who have been most impacted emotionally”, said Karen Ramspacher, SVP Innovation and Insights at MRI-Simmons. “Because they miss the bonding and socializing opportunities associated with sports, this group understandably feels disconnected, and are turning to new forms of media and activities. Understanding the evolving patterns of these fans will be key for media and brands when attempting to reach these passionate consumers.”

For additional insights, download MRI-Simmons’ complimentary report ‘Sports Fandom in the Age of COVID-19’ by visiting: https://www.mrisimmons.com/reports/sports-fandom-in-the-age-of-covid-19

About the MRI-Simmons Sports Fan Study

MRI-Simmons’ Sports Fan Study allows marketers to understand and analyze sports fandom in the United States across key categories. Get deeper insight into your fans and those in the competitive space; what drives their spending, engagement (digital, traditional, and social), and behaviors, and learn how to maximize the potential of current and future fans. Unlike other studies, the MRI-Simmons Sports Fan Study is fused to MRI-Simmons’ nationally representative datasets, providing marketers and media with deeper profiling capabilities across 60,000 consumer elements, including hundreds of psychographics, product categories and thousands of brands.


About MRI-Simmons

MRI-Simmons is the leading provider of insights on the American consumer. With thousands of attitudinal and behavioral data points, gathered through ongoing surveys and passive measurement, MRI-Simmons empowers advertisers, agencies and media companies with deeper insights into the “why” behind consumer behavior.

MRI-Simmons combines best-practice survey methodologies with an innovative technology platform and advanced data visualizations. MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer® is the industry standard for magazine audience ratings. In parallel, the company has been at the forefront of innovation, significantly accelerating the time to insights for brand builders, strategists, planners and sales regardless of their data acumen.

Launched as a joint venture in 2019, MRI-Simmons is co-owned by GfK and SymphonyAI Group, with GfK as the majority partner. To learn more, visit mrisimmons.com, or follow @MRISimmons on Twitter.


Media Contact

Matt Cumello
Senior Director, Marketing
press.ms@mrisimmons.com