Another data point for the impact of the politicization of sports on the bottom line. Not that we needed surveys when the core numbers are clear.
The 2020 World Series broke all sorts of records, mostly bad ones, becoming the least-watched world series. With an average of less than 10 million viewers, the series commanded the attention of some 3% of Americans.
The 32% drop in viewers came at a time when people, many stuck at home, are obsessively watching television. What were the other 13 million who had been watching last year do? The one thing they weren’t doing was watching a game they had once cared about.
It wasn’t just baseball.
The NBA finals ratings dropped 51%. Game 6 brought in 8.2 million viewers and the series only managed an average of 7.45 million viewers. That’s after the conference finals brought in just a little over 4 million viewers.
The YouGov survey numbers are not cheerful either.
Of those who watch sports on TV, about 11 percent said they now watch more as a result of political and social messaging. However, 34.5 percent, more than one-third, said they are watching less.
Men were more likely to turn away from sports as a result of social messages; 37.6 percent of males said they had tuned in less, as opposed to 28 percent of females. Meanwhile, 13 percent of men said they watched more sports in the wake of social justice movements, as opposed to only 7 percent of women.
The breakdown by political party runs as might be expected given the tenor of the national conversation around sports. About 13.7 percent of Democrats say they watched more sports in the wake of social justice movements, while 19 percent watched less. On the other hand, only about 8.6 percent of Republicans watched more sports, while 53 percent watched less once social justice messaging became prominent.
I’m skeptical of these numbers on a purely common sense level. How many people who didn’t watch sports became more interested when there were BLM messages? It doesn’t make much sense. This seems like an answer that some people gave for purely political reasons. Especially if you consider numbers that suggest that 8.5 of Republicans, versus an 11 percent overall figure, began watching more sports because of BLM.
Polling, despite what Nate Silver claims, is badly broken. But the decline of sports is real.
In the woke to broke pipeline, leagues are sacrificing viewers and fans on a massive scale in order to appease advertisers. But wiping out your brand value to appeal to advertisers seems like a very obviously doomed strategy.