The Evolution of Digital Media and Sports Consumption

April 8, 2022

Some of us grew up in an era where AOL Broadband was the only element of the digital sphere that existed. The screeching dial-up noise and slow connection speed were often enough to leave many uninterested in what this “brave new world” had to offer. But little did we know it was just a glimpse of what was to come.

Fast forward decades later. The digital world has completely evolved, playing a huge impact on our lives and daily interactions – from the way we communicate, to transportation, to banking, to dining, to entertainment.

All this, coupled with a pandemic that has completely altered the way we view digital connectivity.

One area where this is prevalent is in the sports arena.

  1. CTV Usage

    With the rise in interest of CTV (Connected TV) devices, advertisers are discovering new and creative ways to reach sports consumers.

    According to research from Nielsen Sports’ Fans are Changing the Game report, consumers (in general) spend 32% of their TV time using connected devices, with 40.7% of that audience being sports fans streaming live event, from all over the world, through digital platforms.
    More and more, brands are exploring non-traditional media channels to reach fans, like CTV. As a result, Connected TV has experienced an increase both in the number of platforms that provide streamlined sports content, as well as a rise in viewership, especially outside of the U.S.

  2. Digital non-live content

    Digital non-live content for sports consumption has proven to be another growing channel for advertisers. 40% of fans between the ages of 16-29 watch non-live sports content on digital devices, which is only 0.4% less than those who watch matches live! Non-live sports content is a great way to attract new audiences to sports, especially when the content exists outside of traditional channels that are connected to sport matches like free-to-air and paid TV. This is particularly true for Gen Zs.

  3. Influencer Marketing

    Sports fans feel a personal connection to athletes, making products and services advertised by their favorite player more credible. According to Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising Study, 71% of consumers trust recommendations from influencers more so than other digital advertising tactics like banners, mobile ads, and search engine ads. Brand sponsorships in sporting events rank second in gaining trust from audiences.

    In all, advertisers are completely rethinking the way they reach sports fans. Whether advertising via CTV devices, non-live digital content or influencer marketing, sports fans truly are reshaping the digital game.


Fans are Changing the Game. (2022, February). Nielsen.