The Forever Fan Is the Sports Buff That Brands Need to Know

They’ve got their eyes on the game and your product

Undoubtedly, the pool of sports fans is large and their impact within the advertising landscape has been steady and celebrated for years.

Super Bowl ad spots are coveted for a reason, of course, because in that single night there are millions of people tuning into the big game, and not necessarily just to watch football.

On the flip side, if you were neither a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies nor the Houston Astros this past World Series run, chances are high you were more focused on your Halloween plans than who was crowned World Champions. But, if you had tried to peel a Phillies fan off their dedicated “lucky watching chair” where they sat in anticipation of every pitch, every at-bat during any game of the 2022 MLB season, you’d be facing the wrath of a fan so dedicated that they’ve considered training themselves, Wednesday Addams-style, to not blink for the duration of an entire baseball broadcast.  

Those fans, lifelong dedicated superfans, exist in every market across the country, watching night after night, soaking in the pre-and post-game shows, and interacting with their favorite teams on social media. These local-level, home team fans hold an unyielding amount of receptivity, buying power and attention that every brand should be seeking to harness.  

Who are Forever Fans?

While many may lump “sports fans” together as one singular group, recent research from Vision Insights has uncovered that sports fandom is much more dynamic.

The insights identified a segment of sports fans that are three times more likely to emotionally connect to sponsors, visit a sponsor’s app or website, and in turn, purchase from brands advertised within the broadcast of their favorite teams’ games. In fact, 66% of these fans have agreed they take action after seeing a brand’s sponsorship as they are watching their favorite team play. 

This subset of the larger sports fan population considers their love for their particular team a part of their core identity and has supercharged that with a lifelong fandom tenure, noting they became a fan of their teams between the ages of 0 and 17 years old. This blend of deep-rooted identification mixed with a dedication that began in diapers has resulted in what can be coined the “Forever Fan.”

To get a better understanding of what differentiates these Forever Fans from your average sports fanatic, a look at their viewing habits shows how acutely passionate they are in comparison. Forever Fans were found to be 2.5 times more likely to watch every single game their team plays.

If talking about a Yankees fan, that is 162 games a year—almost all of which are streamed via YES—their regional sports network (RSN). That means 162 nights a year these Forever Fans have eyeballs on screen, brain neurons firing and heart rates rising.

For those worried about cord cutters, Forever Fans should quell your worries as they were reported to be 6.5 times more likely to use “every possible medium to stay connected to sports.” Simply put, if MLB starts broadcasting baseball via Morse Code, Forever Fans will brush up on the alphabet to make sure they don’t miss it.  

These days, more than ever before, brands need “fans” to win in an ultra-competitive environment. Attention is one metric discussed more often these days, but to create true fans of your brand, you need content that viewers can emotionally and cognitively connect to as home team sports fans.

Forever Fans drive results for brands

Speaking of unbridled attention, a new measurement tool called TVision has captured real-world viewability and attention for TV to understand if viewers’ eyes are on screen when ads appear. This data capture has added another layer of proof to the power of the Forever Fan.

Simply put, Forever Fans have more eyes on screen than any other fan, building their connection to—and retention of—the content and ads, resulting in serious purchase intent for those brands showcased.

For example, Forever Fans who tune into their favorite NHL team all season long via RSN broadcasts drive nearly 17% more viewing to included ads than those tuning into NHL generic coverage—same sports, but different results for brands. 

With these new levels of detail helping define the impact of Forever Fans, the importance of local sports broadcasting has never been more relevant. Putting your brand in front of these fans is a treasure trove of opportunities to gain attention and win repeat customers in an arena that, when all else fails, is just plain fun.

Forever Fans are not just passively viewing games, they are rooting for their teams, unwilling to miss a puck drop, a tip-off or a first pitch. This proven level of attentiveness goes beyond the team and links directly to sponsors and brands advertising in and around their nightly broadcasts, making the next level of fandom all the more desirable for brand marketers in any category. Brands should be thinking about how they can become part of the storyline through integrated sponsorships, in an effort to supercharge their results to even new heights.

Craig Sloan is a sports media and advertising veteran of more than 20 years. As COO of Playfly Sports, the fast-growing agency responsible for transformative work across sports advertising, media and multimedia rights, Sloan oversees all major business operations for Playfly’s portfolio of services.