Industry Voices—Bard: Will sports watching, holiday traditions fade with future generations?

Industry Voices Mike Bard

Thanksgiving, the kickoff to the holiday season. A time for traditions like family dinners, gift exchanges with friends, and watching our favorite holiday specials. Every year around this time the Peanuts episodes “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” airs and although Charlie Brown always falls for Lucy’s ruse, I am still rooting for him to one day kick the football. Speaking of football, the sport has always had a strong correlation to the holiday season for many Americans, including myself. From pick-up games with friends and family, to watching a game or two surrounded by our loved ones, while rethinking if that second piece of pumpkin pie was really such a good idea. Whether our Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other holiday traditions consist of football or not, we face a serious question: how much longer are these traditions really going to last?

Recent research conducted with Gen Z’ers by my team at KS&R shows that this generation of Americans is more interested in watching gaming videos than watching sports. Platforms such as YouTube and Twitch make live streaming and uploading gaming sessions easy, even for the common Gamer. With an internet connection, anyone can view these platforms on any screen. When it comes to watching live sports, linear or vMVPD subscription services are often required and at a cost. With that being said, low cost and free services are more popular among Gen Z’ers, as well as actively participating through commenting, watching virtually with their friends, and even producing videos of their own.

Top reasons for watching gaming videos include:

  • Be entertained
  • Pass the time / relax
  • Learn something new
  • Community and inclusion

KS&R found that nearly half of those regularly watching gaming videos also watch live streaming events with others. Twitch scores big with community, so it’s no surprise that our survey respondents told us that was the top reason for watching the platform. As both Gen Z and the pandemic are re-defining what ‘together’ means, in-person becomes less, while video conferencing and watch groups are now falling into the definition.

The current pandemic has put this evolution into overdrive. Those watching gaming videos pre-pandemic are watching even more now. In fact, 63% of Gen Z’ers who watched gaming videos before informed us they are watching more than ever before.

As more consumers, and specifically Gen Z, turn to social video and gaming videos, it’s changing the celebrity balance as well. A few fun facts that came out of our research:

  • 72% of consumers watching gaming videos follow a social media influencer or YouTuber with more than 100,000 followers
  • Nearly half consider these influencers/YouTubers to be celebrities and are likely to purchase products that their favorite influencer endorses.

To further put this into perspective, love him or hate him, if you follow football, you know who Tom Brady is. Well, Tom has 7.8 million followers on Instagram. Now take, PewDiePie, a gamer/influencer… he has 21.5 million followers on Instagram.

Gaming and social media videos are chipping away at those valuable minutes consumers are taking each day for entertainment time. The celebrity badge traditionally placed on actors and athletes by older generations is moving to gamers, YouTubers, and influencers by Gen Z. Video entertainment consumption is changing. What consumers want to see on screen is changing along with the way advertising is done. Promoting brands are either changing, need to change, or are losing business opportunities – depending on who has done their homework and who has not.

How much longer will Americans tune into football after eating their big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving or schedule time to watch a holiday Peanuts special?

Mike’s curiosity led him into research, where he has worked in the telecom market research industry for nearly 20 years and as telecom blurred into entertainment over the last decade, so has the focus of much of the research Mike and his team has focused on with their clients. As this transition came about, KS&R formed an ‘Entercom’ team, under Mike’s leadership, to better support our industry leading partners. Mike has designed and led research across a number of quantitative and qualitative methodologies from tracking consumer behaviors, service packaging and pricing, concept testing, segmentation, and customer journey mapping; and research topics ranging from old school POTs (plain old telephone) to the latest in streaming and social video.

Mike holds a masters degree in public administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and a bachelors in business administration and economics from the State University of New York at Oswego. Prior to entering the research world and joining KS&R, he served as an officer in the Army and NY Army National Guard. Mike is an avid outdoorsman and boater, a father of 4 and husband to Christina Bard for the past 17 years.

Industry Voices are opinion columns written by outside contributors—often industry experts or analysts—who are invited to the conversation by FierceVideo staff. They do not represent the opinions of FierceVideo.