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Poll: Despite Mobile Options and Cord-cutting, Sports Fans Still Turn on the TV

Traditional live broadcasts are top choice for viewing, even among millennials

Three men sitting on couch watching sports

10/18/2017

Contacts: Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 (o), 978-758-4664 (c) or Christine_Gillette@uml.edu or Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu

Detailed poll results and analysis are available at www.uml.edu/polls.

UMass Lowell representatives are available for interviews (including via ReadyCam by VideoLink) about today’s poll.

LOWELL, Mass. – Despite the growth of mobile technology and viewing options, when sports fans want to watch a game, they turn to traditional live TV, according to results of a UMass Lowell-Washington Post poll released today. 

Eighty-six percent of sports fans said they watched games or highlights on TV in the last 12 months, including 88 percent of 18- to 39-year-olds. That age group includes millennials (those from 18 to 34), who are the least likely to watch traditional live TV and are leading the way in “cutting the cord” on cable television, according to other published research. 

The UMass Lowell-Washington Post poll found that young sports fans are more likely to use mobile technology to expand how they are able to access sports. Thirty-five percent of all sports fans watched games or game highlights on their cellphones in the last year and 51 percent of all fans checked game scores online using a computer or smartphone. Among sports fans younger than 40, the use of mobile and Internet technology to watch games or highlights increased to 55 percent and 67 percent checked game scores using a computer or cellphone. 

“The survey findings suggest that young people are not turning away from watching sports on live television or attending live events. Rather, they are using technology to diversify how they watch and get information about sports,” said Prof. Joshua Dyck, co-director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion, which partnered with The Washington Post on the national poll. 

Sports fans are deeply committed to and personally invested in watching their games of choice, the poll found. Nineteen percent of fans said they find themselves yelling at the TV “all the time” when watching their favorite sport or team. Another 16 percent said they exhibit similar behavior most of the time, 25 percent said sometimes, 21 percent said they hardly ever yell at the TV and 19 said they never do. Women sports fans, 23 percent, were more likely to say they yell at the TV all the time while watching sports compared to 15 percent of men who admitted to doing so. 

Other findings from the poll include:
  • 85 percent of sports fans ages 40 to 64 and 84 percent of those 65 and older said they have watched games or highlights on live TV in the past year.
  • Among those ages 18 to 39, 51 percent attended a live sporting event compared to 45 percent of those ages 40 to 64 and 22 percent of those 65 and over.  
  • The survey also found a generation gap among sports fans who follow athletes on social media: 44 percent of those younger than 40 reported they use Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to follow athletes compared to 23 percent of those ages 40 to 64 and just 7 percent of those 65 and older.
Results of the UMass Lowell-Washington Post poll, which looks at Americans’ opinions on a variety of sports and related issues, are based on live interviews with a random sample of 1,000 American adults conducted in English and Spanish via cellular telephones and landlines Aug. 14 through Aug. 21. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percent for all respondents. Details on methodology and additional poll data and analysis are available at www.uml.edu/polls.

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers. www.uml.edu