Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Here's What Sports-Starved Fans Prefer

With live sports on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, sports networks and properties are turning to everything from documentaries to esports to keep fans engaged, and new polling indicates there’s a heartier appetite for the former.

A Morning Consult survey conducted March 20-22 shows that self-identified sports fans are most interested in sports documentaries, news programming related to the pandemic’s impact on sports and classic games as alternatives to watching live sports.

Roughly 2 in 5 sports fans said they are “very” or “somewhat” interested in watching sports documentaries in lieu of live games. ESPN has been leaning on its robust collection of “30 for 30” documentary films for prime-time programming, this week airing an encore presentation of the five-part “O.J.: Made in America” series from Tuesday through Thursday evening. With a dearth of live programming available for promotion, the company has also used the full “30 for 30” collection as a selling point for its ESPN+ streaming service.

With much of the country on lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, 20 percent of adults say the lack of live sports is having a “major impact” on their daily lives, with that number rising to 26 percent among sports fans. Nearly half of self-identified “avid” sports fans say the sports shutdown has had a significant effect.

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