The NFL is the most popular professional sporting league in the United States. It brings in a global audience, has multiple games played overseas, and appeals to the population in a way that is equal to most of the overall population demographics.
Men are slightly over-represented in the NFL fans demographics when compared to women, with 55% of the total 150 million strong demographic being male.
The NFL fan base is growing, but this is happening because more women are getting involved with the sport. Only NASCAR has more female fans as a percentage than the NFL.
NFL Fans Come From All Backgrounds
- 1 in 4 NFL fans has an income above $100k. This places the NFL behind the NHL (33%) and the PGA (27%).
- 26% of NFL fans make $40k or less annually. Only the NHL (21%) and the PGA (25%) have a smaller low income demographic.
- 77% of NFL fans are Caucasian, compared to 15% being African-American/Black and 8% being Hispanic.
- The 55+ age demographic is the largest percentage off the NFL fans demographics at 37%. Another 34% of NFL fans are in the 35-54 age demographic.
- At 68,000 fans per event, only NASCAR at 98,000 fans per event eclipses the NFL for attendance.
- The NBA finals averages 26.7 million tweets over the course of a 4-7 game final. In comparison, the Super Bowl in just one game generates over 26 million tweets on average.
The NFL is dominating US professional sports partially because of how the sport of gridiron is played. There is a certain impact to the game that other sports are unable to provide. Even high impact sports like rugby fail to take hold within the professional sports demographics because the game doesn’t have the high speed play impacts that the NFL is able to provide.
The Danger the NFL Faces
- Sunday Night Football ranked #1 among women 18-49 for the first time last season and Fox has reported its female viewing audience has hit record highs.
- Super Bowls have logged higher female viewership than the Emmy, Grammys, and Oscars combined.
- Numerous domestic violence incidents that involve women and professional NFL players have caused many women to reconsider their support for this sport.
- Advertisers spend $4 million to have 30 seconds of air time during the Super Bowl, which was the most watched TV program for women in 2014.
- 61% of women who identify themselves as NFL fans state that something needs to be done about the pattern of concussions that is affecting players. This is compared to 47% of men.
- Women either influence or make 85% of the disposable income purchasing decisions that occur in the United States every day.
To keep growing, the NFL faces several difficult decisions in the future. How will they continue to handle players who are charged or convicted with domestic violence incidents against women and/or children? What safety protocols will be put into place to reduce the number of concussions and other injuries that occur on the field of play. If the NFL is unable to come up with meaningful answers to these tough questions, then there is a good chance that the women who have helped the NFL fan base to grow may become a shrinking demographic instead.
Who Is America’s Team?
- In research of which team fans prefer across the country, more NFL fans prefer the Cowboys than any other team. Their geographic reach stretches from California to Florida and up to northern Montana.
- State affiliation also plays a role in NFL fan demographic preferences. People who live in Illinois, for example, prefer the Chicago Bears even though most of the state is actually closer to the St. Louis Rams.
- Some NFL fans have very little geographic territory. For the Houston Texans, only the metropolitan area of the city has a strong preference for the team.
- In terms of actual geographic dominance, the Denver Broncos are a majority team in 10 different states.
What makes the NFL so unique is the fact that people who identify as fans have a certain level of automatic comraderie when they encounter fans who hold the same preferences they do. Two out of market fans for the Chicago Bears in Los Angeles, for example, have an instant foundation for a relationship. This means the NFL brings people together through the presentation of competitive sports like nothing else in the US. As long as this attitude can be maintained, the NFL will continue to dominate the country.