Did Ryder Cup 2023 make a Buzz in the UK?
October 11th, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

Did Ryder Cup 2023 make a Buzz in the UK?

Team Europe’s Ryder Cup win has got fans in the UK talking, data from YouGov SportsIndex shows. But how has the reception to the event been in comparison to the previous editions? And who exactly are Ryder Cup fans? These are the questions we examine in this piece.

The 2023 edition of the Ryder Cup scored higher on the Buzz meter than the 2021 edition held in the US, but this is to be somewhat expected given that home events generally generate a higher Buzz. But, scores were markedly lower than the 2018 edition, in the lead-up to the event, during the tourament itself and in the immediate aftermath as well. At the end of the 2018 assessment period, Buzz for the Ryder Cup among the UK public stood at 11 points, compared to 7.8 for this year’s edition.

It is possible that interest may have been slightly muted this time around due to the absence of LIV Golf tour players such as Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter (both English) on the Team Europe side. Indeed, YouGov Profiles data shows that Westwood (20%) and Poulter (19%) are among the most popular players in the UK, with a fifth of golf fans describing them as among their favourites. Spain’s Sergio Garcia (13%), who is also among the most popular players in the UK, was also not a part of this Ryder Cup for the same reason.

It is also worth noting that, according to YouGov Profiles data, regular viewership of golf on the whole has declined slightly among Britons – from 11% to 8% over the five years between the most recent Europe-hosted events. Similar declines have been seen in various other sports.

Even so, between September 21 and October 5, the Ryder Cup generated the third highest Buzz among all sports properties in the UK at 13.0, surpassed only by the Rugby World Cup 18.7 and the England Women’s National Football Team (15.7).

Through the creation of audience filters, YouGov Profiles also allows us to build detailed portraits of various fandoms. So who are Ryder Cup fans? Demographically, they skew male and older than the average British population but are not too dissimilar to sports fans on the whole.

Females aged under 55, who make up nearly a third of the overall British population, constitute just 6% of Ryder Cup fans. The representation of this group among sports followers, while still lagging the national sample quite significantly, is much stronger at 15%. Observations like these can inform sponsor strategies but can also be useful to sports bodies to identify their core audiences as well as audience segments that they can aim to target when looking to attract new fans.

Looking at income levels, Ryder Cup fans are marginally likelier to fall into higher income categories than the overall population (21% vs 18%) virtually at par with all sports followers (20%). This shows that despite its reputation for being a rich person’s sport, the Ryder Cup’s following is spread quite equitably across various income groups.

Diving deeper into the changing demographics of the Ryder Cup fan, those aged over 55 now make up a much bigger chunk of this group than they did in 2018. Over half of Ryder Cup fans are aged over 55 in 2023 (18%) compared to just 46% in five years ago. The representation of 18-34 year olds have stayed constant at 12%, but there has been a decline in the middle aged (35 to 54) chunk of the pie – from 42% in 2018 to 36% in 2023.

Compared to other popular sports properties in Britain, the share of 18-34 year olds is the lowest among Ryder Cup fans with only Test cricket having a lower share (9%). This share rises to nearly twice that of the Ryder Cup among fans of the Premier League (27%) and the Olympics (24%).

Beyond demographics, YouGov Profiles also collects data on a range of attitudinal statements that can give brands and sports organisations a more sophisticated picture of any audience. Here we look at some statements where Ryder Cup fans show big differences in agreement levels compared to sports fans in general.

Ryder Cup fans seem like a more financially careful lot. They are 10-percentage points likelier to feel it’s worth the effort to switch utility suppliers if it saves a bit of money (87% vs 77%) and are likelier to describe themselves as experts at finding bargains online (48% vs 37%). Perhaps this is why they view eating out as a treat reserved for special occasions (82% vs 68%), and why they are more willing to watch ads in exchange for free content (65% vs 50%).

They are also more likely than sports fans on the whole to feel that artificial intelligence will help humans in most of their daily tasks in the future (76% vs 60%). While they are more accepting of artificial intelligence, they don’t quite see the point of smart speakers when they can search for information online (40% vs 56%).

Coming to adverts, they see the power of sponsorships as a way to keep companies socially relevant (56% vs 49% - in good news for Capgemini, AON, BMW and other Ryder Cup sponsors) and are less likely to be creeped out by personalized adverts (41% vs 54%).

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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 for Great Britain is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.