BLOG | by Charlie Dundas

What do British sports-watchers want to see on TV now?

In the absence of much live sport, we asked British people what they want to see on TV instead. Here’s what they told us.

The chart above shows you the opinions of those who watch sport on TV. As you can see, broadcasters are on the right track, with many of them already having replaced the usual raft of live sport with replays of classic sports action – the public’s favourite option.

What’s perhaps surprising is seeing that more than one in five (23%) wish to see TV programs that focus on exercise/ physical activity which viewers can participate in (read on to see what’s driving that). Joe Wicks has already made himself the nation’s PE teacher but this is a format that linear broadcasters may wish to experiment with more in the face of gym and, in some areas, park closures.

Many people (20%) would also like to see any format of a traditional sport (eg football, cricket, rugby, tennis etc.) competition from around the world which can be played without the risk of spreading the virus (e.g. players who have passed through a quarantine period playing one another in special games). This is something which the NBA has mooted and, while it may be technically difficult, looks attractive to some.

Sixteen percent of sports-watchers would be happy with any sport from around the world that hasn’t yet been cancelled – so perhaps look out for the Russian Hockey League on screens soon.

We also asked about the current appetite for watching esports. Seven percent wanted to watch athletes from traditional sports play video game versions of their own sports and the same proportion want to watch video game tournaments based on traditional sports played by esport experts. Fewer (5%) want to watch esports tournaments involving games like League of Legends. It’s worth noting here, however, that we specifically asked about TV in our polling, while esports are traditionally consumed online.

But when we unpick this data a little, some interesting trends emerge. For example, let’s look at the differences between the preferences of men and women. (See the chart below)

As you can see, when we filter like this, women’s favoured option by far is interactive exercise programming, while men prefer classic replays.

Other differences appear too but probably most interesting among them is that men are much more likely to select esports options, particularly esports versions of traditional sports.

Indeed, sports already experimenting with this format are seeing some success – for example, a million viewers tuned in to see La Liga footballers play each other at FIFA 20 last week. And when we drill down even further into the data, we see that 18-24-year-olds (men and women) are much more likely to prefer esports options than other age groups (15% of  this demographic would like to watch esports tournaments of this kind, compared to just 2% of those aged 55+).

We’ll be keeping track of people’s habits as the global lock-down continues so check back for more updates or subscribe to our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds to see them first. Expect tastes to get more eclectic as cabin fever kicks in!

BLOG | by Charlie Dundas

Commercial Director

With over 15 years’ experience in the sports and sponsorship field, Charlie’s role at YouGov Sport (SMG Insight) is to develop new market opportunities as the company continues to grow internationally. He also assists established and future clients to get the most from YouGov Sport’s market-leading tools and research techniques.


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