top of page

The Next Generation Fandom Survey from the Emory Marketing Analytics Center

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

Update 11/17/21

Below you will find information about the Next Gen Fandom Survey and a link to the highlights report. We will continue to expand the knowledge base. Check here for additional analyses:

Follow Up Reports

The Next Generation Highlight Report

Today, we present the Next Generation Fandom Report Highlights. This report provides an overview of the survey and also illustrates how the survey provides opportunities for deeper analyses into fan behavior across generations.


2021 Fandom Survey Final
Download PDF • 3.71MB

Specifically, the highlight report shows a dramatic trend of lower sports fandom in Generation Z males. This reduced interest in sports is contrasted with fandom in other entertainment categories and explained by data on psychological traits related to community belonging and social identity.

As a tease to the report, the figure below shows the percentage of Generation Z males and females that express avid fandom for different sports. The results are striking. Young women express a higher level of fandom for all sports except Esports.

Original Post

Fandom is a fundamental trait that exists across genders, races, cultures, and nations. People are fans of all sorts of things. Fandom is everything in sports and entertainment, but people are also fans of fashion brands, politicians, colleges, and many other entities. Fandom in the modern age is about intense interest and passion for “something.”

The economics of fan-based business likes sports, movies, and music are constantly evolving. For example, the shift away from cable TV, the growing relevance of social channels, increasing demographic diversity, and the growing importance of the Chinese market have profoundly affected entertainment businesses.

During the last year, the popularity of sports and entertainment has dropped precipitously by some metrics. Mainstream American sports like the NBA and MLB have suffered significant drops in television ratings since the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic. In addition, the Tokyo Olympics yielded the lowest viewership in 33 years, with ratings down about 40%.

Fandom-based businesses and even the broader culture seem to be at an inflection point.

This post will be the homepage for our study on Fandom across Generations. We are calling this the NextGen Fandom project. The project's mission is to conduct a deep dive into fandom behaviors and psychological traits across different generational cohorts. This type of research is essential for a wide range of organizations that market to and employ individuals from multiple age segments. Our goal is to publish a report of the findings in early September.

The project was conducted by professors Michael Lewis of Emory University and Yanwen Wang of the University of British Columbia.

Generational Sports Fandom

To start things off, we will start with a look at how sports fandom varies across generations, Figure 1 shows the percentage of Avid sports fans and Anti sports fans in each generation. We measured Sports Fandom using a 7 point scale ranging from “Very Much” a fan to “Not a Fan.” For the analysis, individuals ranking their sports fandom a 7 are considered "Avid" sports fans and those ranking their fandom as 3 or lower are labeled as "Anti" sports fans.

The figure shows a significant drop in fandom for the Generation Z respondents. Only 23% of Generation Z indicates that they are passionate sports fans. In contrast, 42% of Millennials, 33% of Generation X, and 31% of the Baby Boomers indicate they are Avid sports fans. The negative or “Anti” fandom scores are especially striking. While the percentage of Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers indicating a dislike for sports vary from 5 to 7%, the percentage of Generation Z that dislikes sports is 27%.

A marketing concept called the Net Promotor score focuses on the difference between consumers with very high satisfaction scores (Promoters) and those with very low satisfaction scores (Detractors). The difference between the “Promoters” and the “Detractors” is a measure of enthusiasm for a brand. Looking at the differences between the Avid and Anti populations is revealing. Millennials have a gap of 35% between Avid’s and Anti’s, while the gaps for Generation X and the Boomers are 28% and 25%, respectively. In contrast, for Generation Z, the score is -4% as the population of Anti fans is greater than the Avid fans.

Much more to come...



bottom of page