BLOG | by Tracy Schoenadel

Rugby World Cup: The lesser-spotted US rugby fan

Although it remains a minority sport in the US, rugby still has its share of die-hard fans. In fact, our data tells us that 2.8m Americans follow the sport. So with the Rugby World Cup already in full flow in Japan (and the USA playing on Thursday), we wanted to profile those planning to watch the World Cup and build up a more detailed picture of your average American World Cup watcher.

First of all, he (and it is a he – 79% of rugby fans are male) is likely to be young. Almost a third (32%) of all those interested in the Rugby World Cup (RWC) are aged 18-24 (compared to 13% of the general population), with just over a third aged between 25 and 34 (compared to 17% of the general population). In fact, the tournament attracts very few older people – only 3% of those over 55 plan to watch.

So big was this disparity that we looked to see if it was the case in other markets and it’s not. In France, younger people are less likely to watch than the general population and in the UK the groups are closely matched.

This age disparity colors a lot of the differences we found among our World Cup watchers – for example that they are much more likely to have never been married (45% compared to just 30% of the general population).

In terms of education, RWC fans are almost twice as likely to have finished high school (56% v 32%).

What about sports? Well, there’s significant crossover with being an NFL fan. Almost a third (31%) of RWC-watchers say that the NFL is one of their top interests (compared to 19% of the general population).

But there’s also crossover with other sports. RWC watchers are more likely to be NBA fans than the general population (27% have it as a top interest, compared to 10% of the general population); to be MLB fans (24% v 13%); and to be NHL fans (19% v7%).

So, as a brand or rightsholder what’s the best way to get to those planning to watch the Rugby World Cup? Not newspapers or magazines – this group of fans is only half as likely to have read a daily newspaper in the past week and it’s a similar story for radio too. Across almost every time slot, this group are also less likely to be found watching TV (the only time they are more likely to be tuning in? 11.00pm to 11:30pm).

What about social? Well, over a quarter (26%) of RWC watchers check in to Facebook more than ten times a day (compared to 19% of the general population).

For Twitter, that difference is bigger still – 14% visit more than ten times a day, compared to 4% of the general population. And with RWC watchers five times more likely to be second-screening to interact with the game (21% v 4%), for getting to this group the smart money is on in-game social ads. Let’s just hope that the Eagles (that’s their nickname, if you’re not a rugby fan) win enough games for there to be plenty of ad opportunities. Go Eagles!

BLOG | by Tracy Schoenadel

Senior Vice President & Managing Director of Sports, North America

Tracy is one of the leading authorities in sport marketing and sponsorship research with 25 years of experience in the sponsorship and advertising industry, as well as holding academic positions at University of Massachusetts Amherst, New York University, University of Richmond and University of Connecticut. Tracy was the original managing editor of the publication Sport Marketing Quarterly. She holds a degree in Sport Management.

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