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Report finds Gen Z football fans favour creator-led content and documentaries

Footballco Insights' Future of Fandom Report highlights interesting actions of fans aged 16-24

Footballco Insights has recently released a comprehensive report that delves into the behaviours, motivations and barriers of Gen Z football fans. The report reveals that the focus of these fans isn't confined to the 90-minute game on the pitch. Instead, they are more engrossed in the wider football narrative, with football documentaries playing a significant role in their enjoyment of the sport.

The Future of Fandom Report surveyed 4,432 fans aged between 16 and 65 across 11 markets, including the UK, the US, Brazil, Japan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany. Out of these, 2,000 respondents were Gen Z fans aged 16-24.

The report found that 75% of fans became fans before the age of 18, and 55% of those who identified as 'super fans' started their football journey before the age of 11.

Gen Z and football: A mixed bag of motivations

Gen Z's engagement with football is driven by a variety of factors. The report reveals that video games are a popular pastime for 75% of Gen Z football fans. EAFC (previously FIFA) is the preferred video game for 65% of fans surveyed, followed by the Call of Duty series (45%).

Interestingly, the report suggests that the love of gaming is not a threat but an opportunity for football. It played a significant role in the initial fandom of football for young fans, especially boys. In fact, 29% of Gen Z male football fans said that playing football video games was responsible for making them fans, with many following Premier League clubs.

Andrew Baker, head of strategy at Footballco, said:

“As shown by the interest in narrative-driven football documentaries, such as Welcome to Wrexham, the All or Nothing series, Sunderland Till I Die, and disruptive creators and organisations such as The Sidemen, The Kings League, Hashtag United and others, Gen-Z are drawn to the stories around football more than any other demographic.

“While not to the same level, it is no coincidence that brands like WWE that place narrative at the centre of their sport are so popular with this age group. It also highlights the importance of creating fandom at an early age, even pre-teen.”

The power of social media platforms

Gen Z fans prefer to consume football content on creator-led platforms. YouTube and Instagram are tied for first place, chosen as preferred platforms by 63% of fans, followed by TikTok (49%) and X (formerly Twitter) (35%). Facebook and WhatsApp, however, fell in popularity among Gen Z fans.

Andrew Baker added:

“While young fans said entertainment was most important for them in their football content, when we looked at the qualitative research we saw that these same fans wanted a connection with the creator and to feel inspired. These fans are looking for more than silly memes.”

The Footballco Future of Fandom Report provides valuable insights into the behaviours and motivations of Gen-Z football fans. Understanding these trends can help stakeholders in the football industry to better engage with this demographic and enhance their football experience.

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