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DraftKings national study uncovers new realities of sports fans

20 Jul 2020

(PRESS RELEASE) -- As major U.S. sports leagues gear up to resume this summer and anticipation intensifies, DraftKings Inc. today revealed findings from its national consumer study of American sports fans, including how an overwhelming 78% are willing to sacrifice traditional aspects of sports if it means a return to play. In a nationally representative survey of over 1,000 self-identified American sports fans, DraftKings examined the perspectives and adaptations of modern fandom as a direct result of the novel coronavirus.

“With over half of respondents having reported missing sports during the resultant hiatus, fans across the country are inarguably eager for the return of their favorite leagues and teams, albeit with largely adjusted expectations as exemplified by our latest findings,” said Matt Kalish, co-founder and president, DraftKings North America. “By deepening our understanding of the American fan through data and leveraging the technology of our platform, we are better able to adjust and serve the new experience of sports fans throughout the U.S.”

When the U.S. began its battle against the COVID-19 outbreak in early spring, major sports leagues were among the first organizations to put a hold on normal course of business in the interest of safety. In doing so, 56 percent of respondents reported taking developments around COVID-19 more seriously. Following league suspensions, however, sports fans across the country were hungry for related content and looked toward alternative events, leagues, and teams to follow. As a result, over one in four American fans began following a new sport, and 67% plan to continue following said sport even as more prominent leagues resume. eSports (40%) stand as the most popular newly followed sport trailed by international soccer (34%), MMA (32%) along with golf and international baseball (tied at 31%).

Among upcoming season relaunches and debuts, 64% of American fans say the NBA is their most highly-anticipated sport to watch again, followed by MLB Opening Day at 48%. Both leagues are slated to start later this month, and findings indicated approximately 66% of fans feel it important for live sports to return before September while 39% believe the return to play is occurring too soon.

In-game attendance, one of the biggest attractions when it comes to live sports, marks a notable point of division as fans are mixed on the matter. One out of five respondents do not plan to be in-stadium until a cure for the virus is identified, citing concerns around fan compliance with established protocol including wearing a mask and maintaining an acceptable social distance.
With the industry moving forward and pivoting to new season formats, sports fans intend to engage with their favorite teams from the comfort and safety of their homes: over half of those surveyed do not anticipate a change in how they will watch live sports; 35 percent are in favor of home viewership as opposed to attending live events while wearing masks and social distancing.
Additionally, 60% plan to continue consumption through traditional cable television while 40% will access live feeds by way of in-app streaming services. When asked which sports they are likely to watch live post-COVID-19, respondents said NFL despite the adjusted schedule format.
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