Published on November 23, 2015 by Darin White  

Sports properties are constantly concerned with reaching the next generation of fans. Sports marketers have implemented a myriad of strategies over the years aimed at reaching the younger generation. This was evident on a recent visit by the Samford University sports marketing program to the Miami Dolphins, Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Dolphins have created a complete 365 day per year experience for family season ticket holders aimed at appealing to kids while the Marlins have built a family section in the ballpark complete with kid friendly concession stands that features kid foods and shortened counters. The Bucs on the other hand have spent millions of dollars building a "Disney-like" Buccaneers fan experiential museum at One Buccaneer Place which features a strong pirate theme. Their recently redeveloped logo also highlights the pirate theme.

New research out of the UK suggest that sports properties should consider the development of kid specific YouTube channels. For the first time ever YouTube has overtaken TV as the preferred medium for consuming video content for the younger generation.

The Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report, based on 1,279 in-home interviews with parents and children aged 5 to 15, found that 29% of 12-15 year olds would rather watch YouTube videos compared to the 25% who chose TV first. That marked a turnaround from a similar study in 2014, when 25% opted for YouTube first and 30% for TV. (Warc)

Kids are increasingly turning to YouTube for more than just videos. The study found that "a small but increasing proportion of online 12-15 year olds now turn to YouTube for true and accurate information about serious things going on in the world (8% vs. 3% in 2014). In fact, the proportion of children in this age group who think that that the information on news websites and apps is "always true" has roughly doubled in the past year, from 8% to 14%."(Warc) This suggest that sports properties should consider placing current team news and information aimed at the younger generation on this medium.

These findings support another study released earlier this year which found that younger audiences watch more hours of video on YouTube than TV — simply because they find it more enjoyable and relevant to their lives. Teens and young adults aged 13-24 spend 11.3 hours weekly watching free online video compared with 8.3 hours for regularly scheduled TV (Hunter Qualitative Research ).

According to Todd Spangler of Variety, "62% of survey respondents said digital content makes them “feel good” about themselves vs. 40% reported for TV. According to the survey, 67% of millennials said digital delivers content they can relate to vs. 41% for TV, and 66% said they turn to digital content to relax vs. 47% for TV. Younger viewers connect more strongly with YouTube and other digital-native content because it feels more real than what’s produced for TV."

“Digital video is not as canned — it makes millennials feel better about who they are,” according to Defy Media president Keith Richman.

This blog post was written by Dr. Darin White, founding director of the sports marketing program in the Brock School of Business at Samford University.