Year after year, sports content consistently dominates the top 100 most-viewed programming lists. After a year of upended schedules and empty stadiums, sports has seen a tremendous return to live events while also captivating audiences of all levels of fandom.

Now, more than ever, sports streamers are engaging with games and athletes in new ways and streaming has opened the door for increased accessibility. Sports streamers are individuals who consume sports content across multiple screens and engage with their favorite leagues, teams and athletes across digital platforms. This is inclusive of live TV; video on demand; connected TV; social media, websites and more. Today, traditional streaming TV is just the tip of the iceberg, these audiences are leveraging social media, fantasy, betting and more.

In an effort to better understand the evolving streaming landscape, Disney has built a thought leadership initiative called Generation Stream. As an extension to our Generation Stream: Volume 1 exploration, Generation Stream: Sports Edition explores the new generation of sports TV viewers to understand their behaviors and motivations, and to uncover trends that inform the future of sports, fanship, and consumption.

Through extensive trend research, interviews with “Culturesetters” and industry experts, as well as a nationally representative survey among 2,500 sports streamers, we identified key trends that are reshaping how sports streamers consume content and interact with all things sports. Findings from this research present Disney and our brand partners with the opportunity to connect with sports fans in new and meaningful ways with content, brands and advertising.

The following six reports will be released on a monthly cadence. They’ll range from an exploration of how our connection with athletes is evolving, ways sports streamers are identifying with eSports, a deep dive into how people are extending their sports experience digitally, to a formal segmentation of sports viewers.

Here’s a preview of what’s to come:

The Scorecard

A snapshot of sports streamers that ranges from how sports streamers are identifying with eSports to a deep dive into ways people are extending their sports experience in different ways.

Sports Unleashed

Coming Soon

Sports content is untethered from traditional formats, and fandom is evolving into a kaleidoscope of viewing experiences. With more access to sports through streaming, social media and podcasts, ‘watching sports’ has taken on new meanings and embraces a more diverse audience in the process.

Complete Athlete

The image of athletes as superheroes is giving way to a more complete picture of who they are: complex human beings who are emotional, social, political and multidimensional. The “Complete Athlete” is stepping off the sidelines to create a more culture-defining game.

Digital Rituals

As the sports experience has shifted (largely) to streaming, rituals around fandom have taken a digital turn. This trend explores the new “rituals” of fans from virtual tailgates to YouTube sports rivalries and more. Lucky rabbit foot not required!

Outer Rings

Sports betting, fantasy sports and eSports once represented the outer rings of the sports industry, but today they are fast becoming new centers of the expanding sports universe, ushering in new, diverse fans that ultimately elevate the game.

Sports Fandom 360

Five emerging segments are shaping the future of sports streaming. As streaming unleashes more diverse sports experiences, audiences are regrouping into new clusters of fandom. Each of these new clusters, or fan segments, tells a deeper story about the evolution of sports in an era of social media, social justice, social distancing, and more.

Looking Ahead

This is only the beginning! Keep an eye out for the Generation Stream: Sports Edition reports in the coming months. As we continue to unveil findings, our aim is for Generation Stream to inform content creators and brands alike to take an insightful and fresh look at the power and promise of Streaming TV.

To learn more about both Generation Stream: Volume 1 and Generation Stream: Sports Edition, please visit our Generation Stream Hub.

Source: Generation Stream Report, Culture Co-op, April 2020
Source: Generation Stream: Sports Edition, Culture Co-op, June 2021
Note: Sports streamers are individuals who: (1) Self-identify as sports fans, (2) Use streaming services to watch some or all of their sports content, (3) Have watched a live or non-live sports event, sports highlights and/or sports related videos within the past three months.

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