The explosion of interest in sports betting and online gaming, coinciding with the reopening of society after the pandemic, has sparked a surge in advertising dollars and viewership of athletics. The Olympic Games, which will be held next month, will ride that wave of popularity as people in the U.S. return to normalcy and their passionate expression of fanaticism around their favorite sports and teams.
This week, Nielsen released data from their most recent survey on sports betting in the United States. That data reveals trends that the industry will certainly be paying attention to as legalized betting grows in the country.
Here are five takeaways from Nielsen’s latest data:
1. NHL Fans Show Most Interest In Betting
It’s long been theorized that hockey fans are the most passionate and loyal sports fans. This may be supported by data from Nielsen Fan Insights, which found that 62% of self-identifying NHL fans in the United States say they are interested in sports betting. Compare that to 57% for fans of the NBA, 52% for MLB fans, and 48% for fans of the National Football League.
Capitalizing on the interest in the NHL by fans of the game, the league has entered into several deals that promote sports betting and online sports betting. For example, earlier in 2021, PointsBet forged a multi-year partnership making them an official sports betting partner of the NHL. Earlier this month, BetMGM announced that iconic hockey legend Wayne Gretzky had agreed to become a brand ambassador for the company.
2. Soccer And Golf Fans Are Eager To Wager On Their Favorite Sports
Nielsen asked sports fans in states where they cannot bet, how likely they are to bet on their favorite sport if sports betting was legalized. People who identified as fans of MLS ranked highest at 53% saying they were very interested in betting on that sport. Golf fans were next at 52%. Overall, 25% of sports fans in states where they cannot bet legally on sports, said they were very interested in doing so when and if it is legalized.
3. NFL Fans Are Least Likely To Be Interested In Betting Online On Their Sport
The NFL has long been the most popular spectator sport in the U.S., whether based on revenue, TV viewership, television contracts, licensed sales of merchandise, or by those surveyed. But, it may be surprising to learn that, according to Nielsen, fans of the NFL are least likely to be interested in online sports betting (48% compared to over 50% for fans of the NBA, MLB, and NHL).
I’d presume that this trend is an indication that the NFL and other “major” pro sports have more casual fans than the NHL (which leads in sports betting interest among fans at 62%). Casual fans are probably less likely to want to wager on their favorite sport than a hardcore fan would.
4. High Income Families Are More Interested In Sports Betting
Respondents that indicated they had a household income at or exceeding $125,000 annually were more likely to be very interested in online sports betting than the general population of the U.S., according to Nielsen.
5. Online Sports Betting Advertising Is Quickly Blanketing The Market
According to Nielsen, online sports betting advertisements now rank 11th among the 1,200 product categories the ratings service tracks, in terms of television advertising dollars. This accounts for 2.1% of all TV ad dollars thus far in 2021.