The Internet Killed Our Attention Span, Wrecking The Sports Distribution Model In The Process

Details of the new mobile sports distribution platform looking to create a win-win scenario for both fans and legacy sports distribution channels.

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It’s becoming more obvious by the day — the traditional sports distribution model, built on live games, is dying a slow and painful death.

The problem?

Cord cutting is commonly pointed out as the leading indicator, but it goes much deeper than that. The next generation of fans, which also happen to be leading the cord cutting phenomenon, just simply aren’t interested in sports like generations of the past.

According to a recent study by Morning Consult, titled “The Sports Industry’s Gen Z Problem”, almost 50% of Gen Z respondents (Age 13-23) said they don’t even consider themselves a sports fans. From a macro perspective, that’s extremely concerning — especially from someone that watches sports daily.

Furthermore, there is a fundamental shift occurring in not only which sports the younger generation favors, but also the determining factors that make them watch a live event.

For example, 35% of Gen Z fans stated they were an “avid” or “casual” fan of Esports, which ranked as a more popular option than College Basketball, Major League Baseball, UFC, Nascar, and the NHL (Source).

But when you look at the general public as a whole, Esports falls all the way down the list, at only 19%, behind the UFC, Nascar, NHL, and the WNBA.

Are you starting to see the generational disconnect yet?

So why is there such a drop off in generational fandom when it comes to Esports?

Sure, it’s relatively new and unique, but that’s a lazy take in my opinion. More likely, there appears to be structural differences in how fans of different age groups choose what sports to watch.

The younger generation, Gen Z, is much more emotionally connected to the personality of athlete. Growing up in a creator economy, which rewards personalities for being authentic and open through social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok, has certainly accelerated that trend.

The older generation, call it 30-35 and above, grew up different. They picked sports leagues in general, and individual teams specifically, based on a completely different set of factors.

For example, take two Cleveland Browns fans — the older one is likely a fan because they have a connection to the area, grew up watching the games, and have continued that support throughout their life. The younger one? Well they might just simply like Odell Beckham Jr.

What does it all mean?

In the simplest way possible, younger generations aren’t watching sports.

The continued development of the internet, and social media platforms specifically, has cratered the attention span of a young adult. Instead of watching a live sporting event, where real action isn’t occurring 90% of the time (think NFL & MLB), younger fans have continued to feed their underdeveloped attention span with shorter highlight style moments — hence the rise in popularity of platforms like House of Highlights, Overtime, and The Score.

So how do we fix it?

As the younger population continues to march their way towards the majority, we need to fundamentally shift the optionality of live sports before it’s too late — which is exactly what “Buzzer”, a new sports mobile technology platform, will attempt to do.

The concept is simple — Buzzer, founded by former Twitter exec Bo Han & backed by Sapphire Sport and Lerer Hippeau, wants to sit in between traditional live viewing and the more quick hitting concept of highlights.

For example, you’re a fan of multiple teams but always on the go and don’t necessarily have time to watch the entire game. Buzzer will notify you, based on personalized notifications, when an important moment is happening in a game. If you want to join, you can either authenticate through an existing subscription model (cable, ESPN+, YouTubeTV, etc.), or agree to a micropayment, starting at $0.99, to watch exactly what you want to watch.

Essentially, they’re looking to create a win-win scenario by working with existing media rights holders to maximize their value but also provide a younger generation of fans, who don’t want to sit through an entire game, with increased access to the best moments in sports.

The concept is certainly unique, and could potentially provide a ton of value to the legacy sports distribution model and a younger generation of fans, but there is one concern — will the concept of micropayments, which haven’t seen great success in sports, catch on?

Ultimately, only time will tell. But innovation is good and if there is one generation built for a platform like Buzzer, it’s Gen Z.

Want to sign up for Buzzer’s waitlist? You can check it out here.

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