Millennials driving growth in UK sports attendance

27 Nov 2018

By: Sport Industry Group

Millennials are behind a soaring growth in attendance at UK sporting events, according to figures released by data-driven sport agency Two Circles.

Ticket-buyers aged 16-24 have increased proportionally from 15% to 23% in the six years since London hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games – a period during which UK sport attendance has grown an average 2.8% year-on-year.

In 2018, total attendances at live sports events in the UK will hit 74.6 million, with revenues from ticket and hospitality sales set to contribute £1.9 billion to the economy.

It represents an increase of 11.5 million attendances in 2018, compared to 2012, with the UK leisure economy growing 17% over the same period.

The analysis has been conducted by Two Circles, a two-time BT Sport Industry Awards Agency of the Year winner, using its own comprehensive data source of sporting attendances and transactions.

In 2018 alone, Two Circles processed over a billion pieces of behavioural, attitudinal and purchase data on behalf of UK sports rightsholders.

Commenting on the findings, Gareth Balch, Two Circles CEO said: “Sport has always been a popular leisure choice due to our cognitive bias for unscripted human drama. However, across this Golden Decade, the quality of experience has improved with sports rightsholders increasingly investing in the stadia, the stars, and the service.

"And so despite a huge increase in the amount of available media, sport continues to cut through like nothing else. In a world of smartphones, on-demand TV and short attention spans, it remains one of the few sources of ‘Instagrammable’ entertainment that we can experience with friends, family, or on our own.

"The sports rightsholders prospering most are those who have understood what their audiences – and increasingly younger audiences – want from a live experience, adapting their product where required to ensure fans return, or creating new events to grow their fanbase.”

While football continues to lead the way with a cumulative total attendance of 49.8m, American football, basketball, ice hockey, MMA and netball have experienced the biggest average year-on-year attendance growth since 2012.

Other key findings in the report include a revelation that one in three UK adults attended at least one live professional sports event in 2018.

Despite economic pressures, Two Circles predicts that the live sports events market will continue to grow into the next decade, with the agency’s AI-powered modelling tools showing that attendances will exceed 77m in 2019.