Demo Reel, Part 3: Except For NBA, Not Much Diversity in Sports TV Audience


Sports Media Watch presents a three-part examination of sports viewer demographics. Today, race.

The NBA is a veritable melting pot compared to the other leagues when it comes to minority viewership. Of the events analyzed in the ‘demo reel’ series, the NBA Finals easily had the highest percentage of African American, Hispanic and Asian viewers.

demo3_1aAfrican Americans made up between 32% and 38% of the audience for the NBA Finals, with viewership ranging from 5.1 to 8.4 million. Only the WNBA Finals had a higher percentage of African American viewership, ranging from 34% to 42% of the audience, and no other event attracted more than 3.5 million (NCAA Tournament title game).

Between 15% and 17% of the NBA Finals audience came from the Hispanic demographic, easily outpacing the World Series (8-10%). Hispanic viewership ranged from 2.1 million to 4.1 million; no other event examined earned more than 1.8 million (World Series Game 6).

Finally, Asian viewers made up a more modest 7-8% of the NBA Finals audience, but that was still ahead the other events analyzed. Only the U.S. Open singles finals had a comparable percentage of Asian viewers (6-7%). Between 1.0 and 1.9 million Asian viewers watched each game of the NBA Finals; the only other event to top one million viewers in the demo was the NCAA Tournament title game.

demos_1dOverall, between 55% and 61% of the audience for the NBA Finals was from the African American, Hispanic or Asian demographic. The series averaged nearly 10.2 million viewers across the three demographics, compared to an average of 12.1 million for the other six events combined.

Other than the NBA Finals, the event with the largest minority audience was the NCAA Tournament Final Four, which averaged 4.2 million viewers across the three demographics. The Final Four had a healthy percentage of African American viewers (14-15%), but lagged behind among Hispanic (4-5%) and Asian (4%) viewers. The Bowl Championship Series also had solid African American representation (8-12%), but less impressive numbers among Hispanics (2-6%) and Asians (2-3%).

Of note, the Louisville/Michigan NCAA title game attracted more viewers in the African American, Hispanic and Asian demographics than the Alabama/Notre Dame BCS title game — even though the BCS game had nearly three million more viewers overall.

In an encouraging result for tennis, the U.S. Open singles finals had a strong percentage of African American viewers. For the women’s final, which featured Serena Williams, African Americans made up 28% of the audience. The demo made up 13% of the audience for the Rafael Nadal/Novak Djokovic men’s final, also a good percentage. The Hispanic and Asian demographics each made up just 6-7% of the audience, but that at least compares favorably to the Final Four and BCS.

demo3_1cThe World Series was one of only two events in which the Hispanic demographic made up a larger percentage of the audience than African Americans, but the numbers were not exactly large — between 8% and 10%. African Americans made up just 6-7% of the audience for each World Series game, and Asians just 3%. Overall, the three demos made up just 16-20% of the audience for each game.

The Stanley Cup Final was an especially weak performer among minority viewers. African Americans made up between 1% and 5% of the audience for each game, Hispanics made up between 2% and 6%, and Asian viewers made up between 3% and 4%. Overall, the demographics made up just 6-13% of the audience for each game, making the Stanley Cup Final easily the least diverse sporting event examined.

Full data on race is available on the following page. Previous ‘demo reel’ posts are available here: age/income and gender.

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  • evo morales

    Great stuff as always. Do you have minority viewing figures for other years? Specifically, I’d like to see the Hispanic numbers for the NBA…..I’m curious if 15%-17% is about average, or if those numbers are inflated a bit due to the largest Hispanic populations in Miami and San Antonio.