Demo Reel, Part 1: NBA Young, MLB Old, NHL Affluent


Sports Media Watch presents a three-part examination of sports viewer demographics. Today, age and income. Only select sporting events in 2013 were examined — the Bowl Championship Series, NBA Finals, World Series, Stanley Cup Final, NCAA Final Four, U.S. Open tennis tournament and the WNBA Finals. Information for other sports, such as the NFL and NASCAR, was not available.

nbag7_demosOf the events analyzed, the NBA Finals was far and away the top attraction among younger viewers. The series averaged a 7.1 rating (4.8M viewers) among adults 18-34, with the demo accounting for between 26% and 29% of the audience for each game. That trounced the World Series (3.7, 2.5M), Bowl Championship Series (4.0, 2.6M), and NCAA Tournament Final Four (5.4, 3.7M).

Adults 18-34 made up between 26% and 29% of the audience for each game of the NBA Finals, topping all other events analyzed. The NHL Stanley Cup Final was not far behind, as the demographic accounted for between 22% and 26% of the audience for each game.

The NBA also led among kids 2-17, averaging a 3.5 rating (2.2M viewers). By comparison, the Final Four had a 2.2 (1.4M) in the demo, the BCS had a 2.0 (1.4M), and the World Series had a mere 1.4 (902K).

wsg6_demosKids 2-17 made up between 11% and 14% of the audience for each NBA Finals game, ahead of the other events examined. The demo made up just 5-6% of the audience for each World Series game, lagging behind the Final Four (7-8%), the BCS (8-10%), and the Stanley Cup Final (9-11%). Only tennis’ U.S. Open had a smaller percentage of viewers 2-17 (4-5%).

While younger viewers made up a small portion of the World Series audience, viewers over 55 dominated. The adults 55-99 demo made up between 46% (Game 6) and 52% (Game 3) of the audience for each World Series game, a percentage surpassed only by the U.S. Open (54-62%). The NBA Finals had the smallest percentage of viewers over 55, with the demo making up between 27% and 30% of the audience.

It should be no surprise that the NBA had the lowest median age of the events examined, ranging from 40 (Games 1, 6 and 7) to 43 (Game 5). The Stanley Cup Final was not far behind, ranging from 45 (Games 1 and 6) to 47 (Game 4). The median age ranged from 48-52 for the Final Four, from 48-53 for the BCS, and from 53-55 for the World Series.

scfmedincomeWhile the NBA Finals benefited from a younger audience than the other events, the series ranked second-to-last in viewers’ median income — ahead of only the WNBA Finals. Median income for each game of the series was under $60,000; no other major event examined fell below $64,800.

The Stanley Cup Final led the way in viewer affluence ($73K-$84K), with the two games on NBCSN topping $80,000.

The Stanley Cup Final, which was the youngest skewing event outside of the NBA Finals, would seem to have the mix of youth and affluence that advertisers crave — if only it could get larger numbers overall. It is telling, for example, that while adults 18-34 made up a larger proportion of the audience for the Stanley Cup Final, the old-skewing World Series still attracted more viewers in the demo.

Full data on age and median income is available on the following page. Part two of the ‘Demo Reel’ series will examine sports viewership by gender.

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  • bignasty96

    Damn, rich people love hockey, eh?

    • Jon

      It’s more that hockey is expensive to play, so people that play it and have been around it their entire lives will be more willing to watch it. And those kids come from parents that are able to spend the thousands of dollars to pay for their hockey