Sports brands and marketers face both challenges and opportunities with Gen Z consumers, according to a new study that busts a few myths about these young sports fans, mostly notably the idea that they have short attention spans.

The Nielsen Sports report, entitled Game Changer: Rethinking Sports Experiences for Generation Z, asserts that attention span doesn’t appear to be a problem with these consumers aged 16 to 24 and that it is more important to engage them with quality content, interactive opportunities and the overall entertainment experience.

It’s true that Gen Z sports fans like short-form videos, bite-sized newscasts and podcasts, but this generation is also happy to binge-watch on SVOD services, while almost a third (29%) say they view gaming video content continuously for one to two hours at a time.

And another common misconception about these young people, according to Nielsen, is that they lack disposable income, even though there is evidence that they are more likely to buy luxury accessories than older generations.

It’s for this reason that Louis Vuitton’s partnership with Riot Games’ League of Legends e-sports competitions and Tissot’s sponsorship as the official watch of the NBA “make perfect business sense”, the report says.

The Nielsen study, which is based on analysis of eight major markets – China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and US – also says it’s a myth to imagine Gen Z is not loyal.

Instead, it’s more a question of emphasis because individual athletes are a much bigger draw than teams or leagues and Gen Z loyalties shift as personalities move around throughout their careers.

For example, Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has three times as many social media followers on Instagram and Twitter as the combined total of his team, Juventus, and Serie A league.

And American basketball player LeBron James has three times as many followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as his current team, the Los Angeles Lakers, and 11.6 million more than his league, the NBA.

Commenting on the findings, Mike Wragg, Nielsen Sports’ global head of research, says: “Consumption habits of younger audiences create challenges for sports properties and brands.

“As well as busting a number of myths around young people – such as their perceived short attention spans, lack of loyalty or disposable income – our findings demonstrate how sports sponsors and marketers can and have successfully evolved in the high-stakes competition to engage Generation Z.”

Sourced from Nielsen Sports; additional content by WARC staff