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Digital Aussies welcome US sport

News, 07 August 2015

SYDNEY: With the growth of digital TV and subscription-based services, a growing number of Australians – especially hard-to-reach men aged 18 to 34 – want to watch American sport, industry figures have said.

For example, 462,000 Australians tuned in to the 2015 Super Bowl. While not a huge figure when compared to the 2.8m who watched last year's Australian rules football final, the Super Bowl was broadcast at 10am local time on a weekday, AdNews reported.

"The introduction of subscription-based services has allowed diehard fans to remain connected to every aspect of the game, including live streaming, player updates and game day news," explained Wade Maris, head of media sales at Perform Group.

The global sports media company has worked on developing content for the US National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) specifically for the Australian market.

Maris cited research from Nielsen, which estimated that fans aged 18 to 34 made up 56% of MLB's digital audience and 46% of the NBA's.

"What's interesting is that this young generation is digitally savvy and have grown up in a globalised world," he said. "For them, they can watch these international codes just as easily as they can Australian sports."

Lance Peatey, director of digital products and partnerships at ESPN Australia, reinforced the point by stating that the sports channel achieved its best ever ratings for the NFL 2014-15 season. That included 40% growth among 18 to 34 year-olds.

He said one of the reasons for the rise in popularity of US sports is because a growing number of Australians are playing in the American leagues, such as Mathew Dellavedova, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Mark Jarrett, the managing director of media agency OMD Sydney, attributed the growth to US sports being widely accessible across many channels.

"The reason it's so popular right now is because it's becoming more available on more platforms than ever before. That's where the growth is," he said.

Data sourced from AdNews; additional content by Warc staff