Nielsen Illustrates Findings of ‘Promoting Racial Equality in Sports’ Study

Nielsen has released findings from its first-ever “Promoting Racial Equality in Sports” study capturing U.S. sports fans’ attitudes on racism. Conducted in July 2020 following nationwide protests against systemic racial injustice and incidents of police brutality, the study sheds new light on support among sports fans for the Black Lives Matter movement and their beliefs on the roles of different players in the sports ecosystem in driving positive social change.

Through these new insights, Nielsen Sports enables sports properties and teams as well as brands that are activating through sponsorship, TV broadcasts, and social media to make more data-driven decisions and effectively connect with audiences.

According to the Nielsen Sports study, sports fans outpace the general population in terms of support for racial equality and related movements. Drilling into the numbers, nearly 7 in 10 sports fans indicated support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Additionally, nearly 1 in 3 sports fans have personally contributed either time or money to Black Lives Matter.

The study also surfaced new insights relating to fans’ expectations of athletes, rights holders, and brands in promoting racial equality. Top-level findings include the following:

  • 72% of sports fans believe athletes are an important influence on Black Lives Matter
  • 59% expect athletes to help advance the Black Lives Matter cause
  • 70% indicate teams and leagues should support athlete protests and initiatives on race
  • 70% believe teams and leagues should develop marketing campaigns supporting diversity
  • 64% expressed increased interest in brands engaged in the fight against racial inequality
  • 77% believe brands are more powerful when they partner with sports organizations to drive social change

The study also explored attitudes and behaviors of fans by league, comparing loyalists of the MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, and NASCAR across various dimensions. Among the key findings:

  • NBA, MLS, and NFL fans exhibit the highest level of support for Black Lives Matter among the six leagues tracked
  • Among those who support Black Lives Matter, MLS, NHL, and MLB fans were most likely to have contributed time and/or money to the cause

“While the problems of racial inequality and systemic injustice are difficult and sensitive, it is critical to tackle them,” said Lyndon Campbell, Senior Vice President, Sports Leagues and Rights Holders at Nielsen Sports. “Brands and rights holders that authentically align with these critical issues as they engage sports fans can drive positive social change while also achieving business objectives. This is the definition of a win-win situation.”