How Does Generation Alpha Feel About Pro Sports?

Not the same way they feel about creating arts and crafts...

A young boy wearing headphones staring at a TV screen.
Pro sports may not have a chance against video games.
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In early February, the majority of Americans who tuned in to watch Super Bowl LVIII between the Chiefs and 49ers saw a game broadcast from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. However, there was a smaller group of viewers who watched a telecast that was beamed out from Bikini Bottom that featured SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star and lots of slime in addition to Patrick Mahomes, Brock Purdy and Travis Kelce.

Hoping to attract younger viewers from Generation Alpha (born in 2013 or later) and maybe a stray Gen Z-er or two, Nickelodeon and the NFL teamed up to offer an alternate telecast of the Big Game that was “EXTREMELY-SLIMEY, ULTRA-SPLAT-Y, and SUPREMELY SPONGEY.” The internet, which members of Gen Alpha have been familiar with for their entire existence, loved it.

That somewhat jibes with findings from a new Morning Consult study of about 2,000 parents with children under the age of 11 that was conducted about a month before the Super Bowl was played in Vegas (and Bikini Bottom). Per the results, about two-thirds (69%) of Alpha parents reported their children are interested in playing video games and about the same number of parents (67%) reported that their kids are interested in playing sports.

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Activities that Gen Alpha children are substantially more interested in than playing video games or sports? Watching TV or movies (87%), playing with toys (85%), creating arts and crafts (81%) and reading (73%). As for watching pro sports, Gen Alpha (41%) prefers that to just one other activity, watching Esports (30%).

Given the relative lack of interest in watching professional sports but the large desire to watch television programming in general, combining the two in the manner that the NFL and Nick did for the Super Bowl makes a lot of sense and will likely be copied by other pro leagues moving forward. Additionally, as Morning Consult points out, streaming platforms that are favored by the younger generation may also start weaving in more sports programming to appeal to a new generation of potential fans.

To ensure media deals stay lucrative well into the future, sports properties will need to push for a “broader adoption of hobby-watching among the young generation,” per Morning Consult. “Streaming services are poised to remain a crucial part of this effort, as half of Gen Alpha currently streams video content daily including those under 4. Most of Alphas’ favorite streaming destinations, like YouTube and Netflix, have already made significant investments in sports, from exclusive rights contracts to airing one-off live events and producing behind-the-scenes league shows.”

Given all of that information, SpongeBob and the Super Bowl will probably be teammates for years to come.

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