Football, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the UK’s most popular sport according to the research, followed by tennis, Formula One, rugby union and athletics.
In fact, football is the most popular sport in all eight European countries that took part in the study. Despite Brits’ love of the game, however, UK football fans rank fourth when it comes to the strength of their attachment, with Turkey claiming first place, followed by Germany and Italy. Spain, Russia, Ireland and France fall behind the UK in terms of their attachment to the sport.
Of the 1,000 consumers sampled in the UK, the largest proportion (48%) of those interested in football are aged 35-54, while 32% are 18-34 and 20% are aged over 55.
Split by region, the study reveals that 35% of football fans are in the south, 34% in the north, 29% in the Midlands and just 3% in Northern Ireland.
TV is, of course, a popular way to consume football content, with 93% of those interested in the sport choosing this channel in the UK, but the research finds that 76% will also watch online, 62% will read about football in print media, 58% will listen on the radio, 51% will attend live games and 43% will interact via their mobiles. This brings the average number of touchpoints to 5.3 for UK adults.
Nathalie Zimmermann, managing director at Kantar Media, says: “Marketers should look for audiences beyond the TV fan base. People are using five different channels to follow the Euros; TV is king by far, but online, radio, print and mobile [are also strong]. This gives a lot of opportunity to engage various targets for the Euros.”
A separate study, by RadiumOne and made up of 1,000 people interested in the tournament, again shows that TV dominates, but it too suggests there are opportunities for brands to be diverse in how they connect with fans watching football. While 82% will watch games live on TV, 58% will talk about the Euros with friends or family face-to-face, 56% will follow news about the tournament and 50% will follow a team.
In addition, 22% will listen on the radio, 21% will consume content on social media, 20% will share UEFA Euro ‘16-related content with friends or family using email, text or instant messaging and 19% will share content via social channels.
The research also shows that engagement with the Euros is high, as 45% of those surveyed would describe themselves as fanatics, 36% as enthusiasts and 19% as followers. Fanatics are mostly male – 59% versus 41% of females – while the split for enthusiasts swings the other way, with 45% of men classing themselves as such, versus 55% of women. There are also more female followers (67%) compared to men (33%), but while men are perhaps more obsessive in their love of football, there are a significant number of very interested women that brands should be looking to engage.
Rupert Staines, European managing director at RadiumOne, believes there is a “diversity piece” around the Euros. He says: “Although there is a natural tendency to see this as a very male dominated competition, I would argue that [for] marketers that are interested in reaching females this will be a big opportunity. Increasingly females are heavily engaged – it will be [as much of] an opportunity to reach women as it will be to reach men.”
Almost three in five fans suggest that they will watch the Euros at home on their own, more prevalent in male fans (71%) than female fans (45%) who want to devote their time to the game. Female fans are significantly more likely to plan a party or barbecue (21% compared to 11% of men) or watch the games at a family member’s house (43% of women versus 27% of men).
Most fans will watch matches live on TV, talk about games with friends or family, and watch highlight shows on TV. Fanatics are significantly more likely to participate in any UEFA-related activity, while female fans are more inclined towards supporting a team in the Euros.
While those classed as followers will be more likely to focus on the game, fanatics and enthusiasts will be multi-tasking and actively engaged with the match by reading, chatting and sharing content. Reading online comments or chatting via instant messaging are the top two activities done while watching the game, illustrating that brands should consider different tactics to reach their target audience.