Nielsen

Demonstrating why it often punches above its weight in converting ratings into revenue, new research shows sports radio listeners are both educated and affluent. That’s a takeaway from the just-released 40-page “Year in Sports Media 2017 Report,” a compilation from Nielsen of media highlights, sponsorship trends and consumer insights across leading sports properties.

“Even with the proliferation of devices and unprecedented media fragmentation, sports content continued to thrive in 2017. Sports provided an ideal platform for brands to reach passionate consumers through compelling content,” Nielsen offers in the report. “Sports content across all media platforms continues to flourish and prosper.”

While the press continues to report that sports fans are watching less television, in fact, they are still, for sure, finding their favorite teams. Americans 18+ consumed an average of over 79 hours of content per week, per Nielsen, 28 more hours than in 2002. That is an almost 55% increase during that time.

Tablets, smartphones and PCs accounted for a majority of the overall increase. “Rather than neglect established platforms, this trend demonstrates a greater scope of opportunities for sports across mediums in 2018,” Nielsen noted.

And for radio, the demographics are certainly positive. Of the 23 million Americans who tuned in to sports radio weekly, eight out of 10 were employed, according to the report. They over-indexed on annual incomes of $75,000 or greater and on college education.

In addition, sports radio in 2017 attracted a median age listener of 44 years old, compared to 48 and 49 on cable and broadcast television, respectively. “Radio will continue to attract brands and sponsors to its thriving ecosystem in 2018,” the report says.

And speaking of sponsors, the “Big Four” leagues, along with the PGA Tour, NASCAR and INDYCAR accounted for $7.35 billion in QI Media Value in 2017, the report reveals. That is a $54 million increase year over year.

Among categories, banking, financial services and healthcare collectively averaged 8% growth per year in spending on sports sponsorships over the last three years. “The shifts in brand exposure across categories speak to the ongoing richness of the sports sponsorship environment and its ability to facilitate new brand opportunities in 2018,” Nielsen posits.