In a study of TV viewership of sports in 10 countries by Ampere Analysis, there is a troublesome trend: 18-24 year olds around the world, especially in the USA, are not watching sports on TV. In the USA, the drop is 45% versus the national average. Globally, eight of ten countries have seen drops. The UK was the closest to the USA in the fallout, with a 34% drop. The full report can be found on Business Insider.
While there is a trend to more sports being viewed on phones and tablets, these drops in TV viewership parallel the declines of physical activity and youth team sports play occasions, as revealed in the most recent Inactivity Pandemic Report 2017.
“The drop in children being physically active, especially in team sports, has a ripple effect into sports viewership,” said Jim Baugh, Founder of PHIT America. “We saw the biggest drop in youth being active three times a week or more in years. And, over the last five years, youth team sports play occasions have dropped 19% or five billion play occasions.”
Youth team sports play occasions are the total number of times that children in the USA participate in any team sports game or practice during the year.
Why has this happened?
“There are two major reasons. One, sports have become so serious and too expensive. If a child has an interest in sports, he or she tends to focus on only one sport and often finds it less fun and very expensive. There are actually more kids trying sports, but fewer of them are converting into committed participants,” says Baugh. “The second reason has been the slow, but the devastating decline of physical educations in our schools. These 18-24 year olds grew up without having P.E. in their school years. School P.E. programs are where kids learn how to throw, catch, run and jump. The decline of physical education has been dramatic as 48% of high schools in the U.S. have no P.E. today. School children who don’t have P.E. will not play sports as often, and will not tune in to sports, as well.”
PHIT America, through the Physical Activity Council, has access to definitive research that physically active Americans are bigger fans of the NFL, MLB, NBA and all spectator sports. This research can also be found in the Inactivity Pandemic Report 2017.
“The ‘Inactivity Pandemic’ is not only devastating for our health, it is a killer for sports fandom as well,” adds Baugh. “All sports governing bodies need to focus on youth sports participants to make sure they are fun and accessible to all. Most importantly, we need to rebuild physical education programs so all children know how to throw, catch, run and jump. If this happens, sports viewership will definitely improve.”