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Next Generation Fandom Survey 2023

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Fandom is about passion, enthusiasm, and interest in cultural entities like sports, entertainment, fashion, or even politics. Shared fandom unites people and creates the interwoven sub-cultures and groups that create a robust society. Dallas residents share a love of the Cowboys and opinions about Jerry Jones, Swifties bond over the music and exploits of Taylor Swift, and Harry Potter fans have watched all the movies and can discuss the rules of Quidditch.


It’s year 3 of our annual “Next Generation Fandom Survey.” The Next Generation Fandom survey examines current attitudes towards sports and other cultural entities (~the survey involves a 2400 person sample of Americans aged 13 to 75). This will be the landing page for the 2023 survey results.


It’s a big survey that will take months to review the findings. This year our approach will be to look at 1 or 2 (or maybe 3) questions at a time rather than production of single massive report. 5-minute nuggets of knowledge. If you are interested in the more detailed reports – send a note to mike.lewis@emory.edu.


Post 1: Sports Fandom and Sports Apathetics in 2023 versus 2022




The Figure shows a slight increase in overall sports fandom from 38.8% of the population in 2022 to 40.3% in 2023. The percentage of people indicating apathy or very low sports fandom also fell from 23.1% in 2022 to 21% in 2023.


Fandom is about passion, enthusiasm, and interest in cultural entities like sports, entertainment, fashion, or even politics. Shared fandom unites people and creates the interwoven sub-cultures and groups that create a robust society. Re-engagement with sports post-Covid is one indicator of re-engagement with the larger culture. It looks like sports is recovering and perhaps has reached a post-Covid equilibrium.


Overall, this is good news for the world of sports as the industry continues to evolve in the face of technological change and cultural turmoil.


However, this result prompts more questions than it answers. Is fandom evolving differently across different sports? How about across genders, generations, or political ideology?







The structure of sports fandom is changing. We seem to be evolving from a Big 3 (or 4) sports to the NFL as the sole unifying sports fandom with Basketball and Baseball in a battle for the number 2 spot (click here for the full post)



Post 3: Entertainment and Cultural Fandom


The Figure below shows the fandom rates for a selection of entertainment categories, including Movies, Television, Music, Comedy, Theater, Musicals, Social Media Content, and Fashion. The Sports category is also included as a reference. The figure shows the fandom rates in 2022 and 2023.




The full entry is HERE



The following note describes data on the psychological benefits of group membership collected in the 2023 Next Generation Fandom Survey. Being a fan may be an important aspect of social identity and a widespread type of group membership. This note examines several benefits that fandom or group membership supplies. The material in this note (the dimensions of fandom utility) is used in subsequent analyses.

  • We find 5 primary dimensions of group membership utility. The dimensions include:

o “We Win” is the utility fans gain from feeling like they are a part of the team or organization.

o “Reflected Prestige/Glory” is the utility fans gain from being associated with prestigious or successful groups.

o “Stability Maintenance” is the utility of groups using collective power to maintain traditional social order.

o “Cancel Culture” is the utility of groups using power to regulate and sanction bad behavior.

o “My Own Thing” is the utility gained from being viewed as separate from groups.

  • The “We Win” Trait correlates most highly with sports fandom.

  • Regression analysis reveals that fandom for different sports and cultural entities (Movies, Music, Fashion) is driven by individual differences in the psychological traits related to group memberships. Some fandoms, like Movies and Music, are correlated with a strong need to be recognized as an individual, while fandom for sports is driven by a need to connect with and feel a part of cultural groups.

The Full Post is HERE



Fandom is fundamentally about passion for and engagement with cultural entities. As such, the prevalence of fandom and the popularity of specific cultural elements tell us something essential about our modern society. The Next Generation Fandom Survey deeply explores sports, entertainment, and cultural fandom across generations of Americans. The survey examines how fandom attitudes, behaviors, and motivations vary across Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers.


Highlights from the 2023 survey include:


  • Sports fandom is lowest for Generation Z and Highest for Millennials. Baby Boomers have the highest percentage of Apathetics.

  • Generation Z has higher fandom rates for Esports (18%) and Soccer (23%) than for Baseball (16%).

  • Fandom for entertainment products remains high in Gen Z. Gen Z has the second highest fandom (trailing only Millennials) for Television, Music, and Brands).

  • Fandom for popular consumer brands (Nike, Coke, Tesla, etc.) is highest for Millennials, but Gen Z has the second highest fandom rates for these heavily marketed products.

  • The culturally disengaged generation is the Baby Boomers. Across sports, entertainment, and consumer brands, Baby Boomers are generally the least or second least engaged cohort.

  • Several results suggest that Gen Z is more interested in their teams and celebrities engaging in activism. This represents a significant challenge for sports organizations as political activity may alienate other generational segments, and there is little evidence that social justice campaigns are sufficient to drive fandom.

  • Within Gen Z, the youngest half of Gen Z has significantly less fandom for major American sports (Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Hockey) than older members of Gen Z. However, Young Gen Z’s fandom for other sports and most entertainment categories is the same or greater as Old Gen Z’s. Increased disengagement with Gen Z is limited to major (Big 3) sports.


The following report provides a series of fandom-focused analyses that investigate generational differences. Context and interpretation are provided to better understand the patterns in the data. It is a tumultuous time for sports and entertainment as technology transfers market power from traditional to social media, and demographic changes disrupt community and familial fandom traditions. The 2023 Next Generation Fandom Survey provides a snapshot in time as to how these technological and demographic forces are changing the cultural landscape and impacting fandom-oriented businesses.





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