How do American sports fans engage with sports on social media?
May 12th, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

How do American sports fans engage with sports on social media?

Nearly two-fifths of sports fans in the US (37%) say they follow sporting updates on social media, making it the second most popular medium of keeping up with the action, behind only live TV (69%). Sports fans here are defined as those who say they are somewhat interested in sports or who say that it is one of their top interests.

But just what type of sports pages do fans follow on social media? YouGov Profiles data shows that nearly a quarter of fans who do follow sports on social media rate pages of sports news outfits (such as BleacherReport and ESPN) as their most preferred type of sports page to follow (31%).

Team social media pages are also a popular option, which a quarter of American sports fans (25%) rate as their most preferred choice.

Interestingly athlete social media pages are less popular at only 11% even though pages of athletes often have more followers on social media than the teams they play for. For instance, LeBron James has nearly five times the followers of his team, the LA Lakers, on Twitter. This could be because fans don’t necessarily view content on athlete pages as sports content considering that players often use social media channels to post non-sporting updates and commercial content.

A similar share of fans rate fan-owned social media pages (10%) and league social media pages (9%) as their top options.

But there can be significant variances among different sets of sports fans. For instance, football fans are seven percentage points likelier than basketball fans to choose team social media pages as their preferred option (29% vs 22%).

Conversely, basketball fans are twice as likely as football fans to vote for athlete social media pages (12% vs 6%). But sports news social media pages are the most popular across the board with roughly two-fifths of fans of all the most popular sports in the US rating it as their top choice.

Additionally, it is worth noting that fans of individual sports are significantly more likely than others to choose athlete pages as their preferred option. For instance a fifth of figure skating fans (20%) and 16% of running/marathon fans choose this option as their top source for sports updates on social media.

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Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.