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2018 Research

Fan Experience Benchmark: U.S. Professional Sports

May 2018

For seven years in a row, Temkin Group has tracked U.S. consumers’ preferences for watching professional sports on TV. This year, we also examined their experience when attending a live sporting event. Here are some highlights from this research:

  • NFL, is by far the most popular sport, as 50.8% of consumers like to watch it on TV. The next most popular sport is MLB (37.9%). Of the nine sports examined, WNBA is the least popular (6.1%).
  • Temkin Group has been tracking these TV preferences (except for WNBA) for seven years. Between 2012 and 2018, only MLB (-3.9 %-points) and NHL (+0.9) have experienced an increase. NFL has experienced the largest decline (-6.8), followed by NASCAR (-4.1), PG (-2.2), USTA (-1.0), MLS (-0.5), and PGA (-0.5).
  • The decline in TV interest was most dramatic for males between the ages of 18- and 24-years-old. Across most of the sports in the study, this group experienced the largest drop.
  • The largest percentage of consumers have attended an MLB game over the previous year (19.8%), while the fewest attended an WNBA game (2.2%).
  • We identified sporting event attendees who are likely to recommend that their friends and relatives attend a live sporting event. NASCAR has the largest level of promoters (57%), while the NFL has the lowest (49%).
  • On average across the sports, consumers were least satisfied with the parking experience and most satisfied with their experience of watching the game/match.
  • The WNBA earned the highest satisfaction scores for five of the nine experiences we examined: parking, using the bathroom, purchasing food, purchasing a souvenir, and leaving the stadium.
  • NHL and MLB earned the top satisfaction scores for the experience of watching the game.
  • The NFL earned the lowest satisfaction scores for eight of the nine live event experiences.
  • We include live event scorecards for MLB, MLS, NASCAR, NBA, NFL, NHL, and WNBA
  • Sports teams that want to improve fan experience need to build four competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness.



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