BLOG | by Victor Gras

During this quiet period for the major leagues, have other sports been making ground?

While most seasons remain suspended – or at least have yet to begin – there are still a few nuggets of live action giving sports fans good reasons to tune back into their cable subscriptions. We thought we’d take a look at a few of those active sports to see how they are performing.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship staged its first post-lockdown event  – UFC 249 – on May 9 and has since served up a handful of other bouts – largely in the absence of any competition. Staging the events really helped to pump up the property’s Buzz score. And while its score fell back a little initially, it has peaked again since, following UFC 250 in June. In fact, the initial increase in score around UFC 249 lifted the UFC 15 places in our ranking of US sports properties over a ten-day period either side of the event.

A number of other metrics (we track 16 in total) have also climbed over the full month of May. But probably the most significant is this upturn in Impression of the property among 18-34-year-olds.

That’s good news for organisers and sponsors as they seek to capitalize on this window of opportunity.

What about a more recently-returned property – NASCAR? The sport took to the Darlington Raceway on 17 May following a two-month hiatus. But how has the break – and the sport’s return – affected public perceptions?

Buzz around NASCAR has almost doubled since the start of May and now sits at around 17%. To put that into context, that’s the highest Buzz score for the property since March 2018.

So how does that translate into lower funnel metrics? Well, here’s how the property has performed against our Current Customer metric over the last full month. As you can see, it’s a curve that tells you that NASCAR is thriving since its return.

We’ve noticed plenty of chatter about the Korean Baseball League (KBO) in the past few weeks. But have the public been taking any notice?

Awareness of the league has risen significantly since we started tracking it. It’s risen from 7% to 11% in the past four weeks. Buzz around the league has faded away over that time and although other scores, including Satisfaction and Recommend have climbed, that doesn’t seem to have translated into the overall proportion of people telling us that they follow the competition. (It’s worth noting that the trend in every metric amongst the general population is mirrored by the scores amongst baseball fans).

But on the plus side, the KBO’s Value metric is continuing to increase over time among MLB fans – something which could be an indication that the league is accumulating more respect among baseball fans.

Finally, let’s explore the only major soccer property back in action – the German Bundesliga. Is its return during this “quiet” period enough to catch the eye of major league sport fans?

Well, despite there being a pandemic on, amongst those aware of the competition, the league maintained an almost equal amount of Buzz to this time last year (for the full month of May). But remarkably, it is attracting significantly more eyeballs (as measured by our Current Customer metric). That means the league looks to really have capitalized in the gap in live sports content.

Overall, it’s a positive picture for those sports which we’ve looked at here. NASCAR, UFC and the Bundesliga look to have fared well already, while the KBO is showing some promising signs of growing its audience too. We’ll continue to keep a look out for further signs of growth.

BLOG | by Victor Gras

VICTOR GRAS
Head of Client Services

Joining YouGov Sport in March 2018, Victor brings seven years of global sports sponsorship expertise. In his last role, he led Nielsen’s Market Intelligence activity across all US verticals, working with brands, rights holders and agency clients. He also worked previously with the New York Road Runners, where he helped TCS launch the title partnership of the NYC Marathon, as well as with the ASO, optimizing sponsorship strategies for the Tour de France and the Paris Marathon.

E victor.gras@yougov.com