Business

Young fans 'drive up UK sports attendances'

Fans enjoy the atmosphere during the cricket match between Sussex Sharks and Middlesex Image copyright Google
Image caption Millennials prefer to spend money on the experience economy rather than acquisitions

Young sports fans are driving strong growth in attendance at UK sports events, according to new research.

Around 74.8 million people are expected to buy tickets for professional sports events in 2018, according to digital sports marketing agency Two Circles.

That is up from 63 milion in 2012, the year of the London Olympics.

The number of millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, attending sports events has increased from 16% of ticket-buyers in 2012 to 21% in 2018.

Two Circles says revenue from 2018 attendances will directly contribute £1.9bn to the UK leisure economy.

'Short attention spans'

Younger fans are drivers of the so-called experience economy, preferring to attend events that they can share with friends on social media.

"In a world of smartphones, on-demand TV and short attention spans, sport remains one of the few sources of 'Instagrammable' entertainment that we can experience with friends, family, or on our own," says Two Circles chief executive Gareth Balch.

"The sports rights-holders 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 fan base."

Meanwhile, football remains the country's dominant game, accounting for two-thirds of all sport attendances, and driven by the continued appeal of England's Premier League.

It is followed in the attendance stakes by horse racing, rugby union, cricket and rugby league.

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