Report: Desktop/laptop computers still dominate sports consumption

The use of mobile devices to access sports content has doubled among sports fans since 2011. But desktop/laptop computers are by far the platform they use most often to read and watch content. That’s according to Sporting News Media’s 2014 “Know the Fan” report. (The report gathers findings worldwide; this post refers to its U.S. results.)

In a phone call with Poynter, Sporting News Media CEO Juan Delgado said the growth in mobile usage was “obviously impressive,” but said he was surprised to find that “Although desktop isn’t growing as fast, it’s not losing audience.”

About a quarter of fans said they use only websites to follow sports on mobile devices, and another quarter said they use only apps. A little more than half said they use both in various combinations.

The most popular screen for sports fans is, not surprisingly, the big one in their living rooms. 44 percent of sports fans reported using a second screen while watching sports. But nearly 4 in 10 fans used those second screens for non-sports content.

“That was one point that kind of stood out to us, Brent Lazo, Sporting News’ Director of Analytics, said. Another finding he found notable: The percentage of sports fans who followed sports news on large social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter fell this year, while growth grew on smaller platforms like Instagram, Vine and — believe it or not — Pinterest. None came close to Facebook as a platform, though.

“You just can’t beat the 250 million active users Facebook has in the U.S.,” Delgado said. But, he said, making money off those users is a challenge: “A lot of money goes to guys like Facebook, but I think it’s still a little bit early for an advertiser to say they can target a sports fan” through that platform.

Social media in general, he said, hasn’t really “honed in yet to capture” those fans, “but it will get better,” Delgado said. “And I think that’s why Twitter’s so interested in TV.”

Sports fans spent 7.7 hours a week on average consuming sports, a smaller time than last year but much higher than 2011, when the average reported was 6.2 hours. “It’s not just the growth on mobile which is astonishing,” Delgado said, “but the fact that there’s more time spent through more devices means that sports in particular is a glue to consuming content anywhere and everywhere you are.”

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