Viewership for this season’s NFL games is reportedly down by 10% year-to-date. Some of this decline has been attributed to the “cutting the cord” on cable TV due to high costs. ESPN has reportedly lost over four million subscribers. Another cause for the decline in viewership has been the length of the games, both college and pro, which frequently exceed four hours. Whatever the reasons, this decline must be very concerning to all advertisers, especially the beer companies.
Given the fact that many colleges have recently started selling beer during the games, or even sold concession rights directly to brewers, like ABI and Texas A&M have done, the decline in the number of fans watching the games has continued.
A recent study revealed the intertwining of alcohol and sports for those who watch sports live in the stadium, or at home on their television. This study broke-out consumption by sport within the following sports: football, basketball, hockey, baseball, car racing, soccer, golf and tennis. Of the eight sports studied, with the exception of football, increased alcohol consumption occurred at the event versus while watching the event at home. Only while viewing football at home, was the viewer more likely to consume more alcohol. The difference as a percentage is not much, four to five percent by sport, but that must translate into a great deal of volume.
So what happened to the 10% of viewers who once watched football and now are no longer watching? And into how much volume does that 10% translate? What are the demographics of those who are no longer watching football?
And will this trend be the beginning of declined watching, or just a glitch? What if the downward spiral continues, signaling a major shift in the way males spend their free time? If that becomes true, how will the beer industry adjust?
Many pundits in recent years have written and discussed the “woosification” of the American male. The personification of this term can be seen in the so called “safe zones” now provided by many American colleges. Much of this was brought to light after the recent election and the way college “snowflakes and cupcakes,” many of whom are males, are handling the election results. To many, these males do fit the demographic of the once typical NFL fan. It is hard to visualize these snowflakes and cupcakes drinking a Bud, munching on wings and supporting an NFL team! Perhaps they are more likely drinking white wine and eating brie.
In the future, beer advertising and marketing will be targeted toward specific demographics and more careful attention will be made as to where discretionary marketing dollars will be spent. The NFL has been the bell-cow for decades, but the changing U.S. culture is causing major upheavals in all types of marketing, not just with beer as we are seeing with the NFL and college viewing.
Three things men always talk about – women, sports and cars…