Catalyst 2014 Fan Engagement Study Social Media Behaviors And Digital Media Evolution

Catalyst 2014 Fan Engagement Study Social Media Behaviors And Digital Media Evolution - Sports Techie blog
Catalyst 2014 Fan Engagement Study Social Media Behaviors And Digital Media Evolution – Sports Techie blog

Catalyst 2014 Fan Engagement Study Social Media Behaviors And Digital Media Evolution

The 5th annual Catalyst Sports Fan Engagement Study was just released from their New York headquarters and the Sports Techie community blog was fortunate to be able to share insight about the data and resulting Infographic identifying how fans engage with sports using social media, for our loyal readers and followers. It was my pleasure to chat once again with Bret Werner, SVP and managing director, and Michelle Gordon, VP of consumer insights, at Catalyst, about the social media attitudes and usage habits among sport fans thanks to the explosion of mobile devices and sports technology products. If you are decision maker for a league, brand or are a consumer who needs to know how avid fans engage with social media in 2014 and beyond, Catalyst has award winning services and valuable metrics that will fit your branding needs.

Fan Engagement Study Metrics
The Fan Engagement Study began in in 2010 and was covered last year by #SportsTechie via this link . After compiling this years big data numbers, Catalyst, an IMG consulting company, has useful analytics into the continuing morphing of sports and digital media among sports fans, how trends evolve year-over-year, and identifies opportunities’ for brand engagement.

This year’s study interviewed 2,195 people during the month of August that were located around the US and ranged in age from 16 – 64. Each person was considered to be an avid fan of the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NCAA college football and basketball, and for the first time, the NHL. Gordon said, “Avid fans were 4-5 on a scale of 1-5.” Behavioral questions were asked including what the percentage of games each fan followed.

The survey was fielded again by REPUCOM. The primary focus was to find out how these rapid fans engaged with digitally delivered content surrounding their favorite sports, and where brands stood with consumers.

“Each year this study provides valuable insights directly from sports fans on how they consume and engage with brand’s social content,” said Werner. “Surveying consumers social behavior and monitoring the evolving media landscape, allows us to identify opportunities and offer solutions that best serve our clients and their customers.”

The following fan groups were defined to make comparisons across sports and to enable deep dive analyses into use of social media by sport: NFL (N=506), NCAA Football (N=521), NCAA Basketball (N=511), MLB (N=530), NBA (N=514), Soccer (N=513), NHL (N=519)

fan engagement _infograph_2014

Some key findings are:

  • Non-Caucasian sports fans tend to use Twitter, Instagram and Vine more than the average sports fan. African Americans are 1.9x more likely to use Instagram and 2.4x more likely to use Vine
  • American soccer fan measurements indicate they follow and discuss sports via social media the most. They are more likely than fans of any other sport to use Youtube (66%), Twitter (48%), and Instagram (26%)
  • Fans are first looking to social media as their primary source for sports information, but prefer to trust traditional sources such as TV and newspapers more
  • Google+ and Tumblr game day usage increased since 2013
  • Fans engage with content that is more than just the scoreboard, avid sports fans can be found engaging with post-game (77%) and pre-game excitement (73%), bloopers (68%), historic video (65%), game debate/banter (65%), and Q&A with coaches and players (62%) as the most popular

About Catalyst
Catalyst is at the forefront of strategic public relations through its extensive knowledge of digital and traditional media. The agency partners with leading brands to reach the hearts and minds of consumers who are passionate about sports, entertainment and leading an active lifestyle.  From 2010 to 2013, Catalyst earned four agency of the year honors including consecutive Small Agency of the Year awards from PRWeek in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, Catalyst won Grand Clio Award for Best Integrated Sports Campaign. More information is available at Follow Catalyst on Twitter: and Facebook:


Sports Techie, Understanding fans social behaviors and monitoring the media evolution are key to successful targeted marketing strategies. For instance, more than half of fans (56%) will like or follow a brand on social media if they show they support their team or sport. To no surprise, Facebook overtook Twitter as the most followed social media channel which makes sense since they have the most users. I am a fan of all sports and teams and try to deliver sports tech content from most all channels.

It was interesting to find both executives felt African-American fans established certain social media user habits that other demographic groups eventually followed. I went to a Starbucks business conference in Washington state featuring Howard Schultz, NBA commissioner David Stern and NBA Hall of Fame legend Magic Johnson, where Magic discussed the notion that blacks buy from blacks. Perhaps this theory is played out across social media by teams, athletes and brands that align best with black culture, resulting in fellow Americans to want to copy these trend setters.

A remarkable eight in-ten fans associated to brands on social media have either discussed about the brand, bought from it, or shared original content that the brand posted. I have seen my share of Seahawks jerseys in Seattle and 12thMan or #12s posts across social media hubs, and Falcons related tweets and branded apparel around Atlanta and Georgia, to fully appreciate this sportsbiz trend.

The majority of surveyed fans expect brands and athletes to provide sports-related content. While more than 57% of fans desire brand content to be entertaining. First athlete that comes to mind is LeBron James who discussed his impending free agency on social media and then gave an exclusive story to Sports Illustrated about his decision to leave the Miami Heat and go back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Teams and media outlets continue to be the top information sources for sports on social media; athletes media personalities, and super fans gained momentum. Fans often follow athletes (70%), bloggers (44%), and super fans (42%). Warner said, “Celebrities and superfans are undercapitalized.” I must add that celebrities are over utilized from my perspective and bloggers as trusted media sources are not given enough value for our credibility and ability to influence. I asked whether an athlete’s personal brand are potential customers for Catalyst and Warner said no, even though athletes have more quantifiable methods of measuring their marketing Klout since the BSports and MVPindex partnership than ever before.

“College football allows for displaced fans to root for their team” said Werner. He feels that collegiate fans are all over the nation. The pageantry of the colors, the nostalgic stadiums and the friendly mascots, all play roles. Pinterest is making serious headway with college sports fans. I asked Gordon about the abundance of women who use Pinterest and she said the trend of social media channels used by fans for following and discussing sports, athletes and game day, was happening, “Across the board.”

Their initial NHL findings confirmed the league has an abundance of social media followers and digitally savvy fans but they generally were not as proactive to seek out different resources and forms of content as other mainstreams sports.

I asked about LinkedIn and the UFC missing from the data. They both felt avid fans were not looking to engage with sports teams, athletes and brands via the LinkedIn platform, something I do not entirely agree with since it is business-centric. Warner said they included the UFC several years ago in the study but not this year.

Soccer metrics in our country were extracted from MLS and World Cup fans but not much was queried in the way of European Super Leagues but they plan to look at fans social media behavior across Europe in the near future. Input they received concluded that the lack of major media coverage and the time difference across the coasts caused soccer fans to rely on MLS produced editorial news and stories.

The ever expanding global expansion of sports was touched on by the two executives. Their company has interest in working together with brands that have domestic or International digital, content and PR needs.

“What’s Next” was the category Warner put Snapchat, WhatsApp and Kik messaging app into and compared these newer media sources to location based companies that were all the rage two-years ago.

Trends are looked at year-by-year but with the real-time nature of today’s sports environment thanks to popular media resources such as Facebook, Twitter and all the rest of the social media outlets, it makes more sense to gather and analyze these digital metrics as needed, whether that be daily, for the week, month or quarter. This way optimized marketing and advertising campaigns can be implemented with less risk of failure since a large amount of fans are either overly loyal or bandwagon in nature, so they either purchase no matter what or follow the winners and buy, in my opinion. Knowing real-time stats of avid and casual fans social media behavior such as produced by Catalyst, is a certain brand game-changer.

See y’all later in Seattle and here in Atlanta.

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2 responses to “Catalyst 2014 Fan Engagement Study Social Media Behaviors And Digital Media Evolution”

  1. […] redes sociales se han convertido en el nuevo ámbito de discusión favorito para los fanáticos. Según un informe realizado por la consultora Catalyst en 2014, el 64% de las hinchas de algún equipo deportivo visitan alguna red social mientras miran un […]

  2. […] 5th Annual Catalyst Sport Fan Engagement Study also reports: “Fans engage with content that is more than just the scoreboard, avid sports fans […]