Over at Sports Media Watch, Paulsen broke down the viewership totals of various sports' championship games into age demographics, while also compiling the average income for each game of each series.The results were quite interesting, and paint an interesting picture for multiple sports.
Baseball, of course, has been one of the most talked about sports in terms of their inability to attract younger viewers. And the data backs that line of thinking – during the 2013 World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals, no game cracked the 25% mark in viewers from the ages of 2-34. In fact, Games 2 and 3 of the series (which took place on Thursday and Saturday nights, respectively) drew just 21% and 20% of their viewers in that age bracket with 79% and 80% coming in at 35 years of age and older. Each game of the series also had at least 45% of their viewership at over 55 years old, a stat that seemingly confirms every preconceived notion about the sport.
The NBA dominated with young viewers during the NBA Finals between the Heat and Spurs in June. Each of the seven games in the series had at least 37% of viewers between 2 and 34, and only one game of the series (Game 5, which took place on a Sunday evening) had 55+ viewership of 30%. Only four of the seven games cracked the 60% barrier in viewers aged 35 or older, as well.
Perhaps surprisingly, the NHL's Stanley Cup Final delivered with younger viewers. The Blackhawks' six game victory over the Bruins was watched by between 32% and 35% of viewers between 2 and 34, and only two games (4 and 5, Wednesday and Saturday)saw their 55+ viewer base exceed 31%. No game crossed the 70% threshold in viewers 35 and older, though all were at least 65% in that demographic.
College athletics also drew their share of older viewers. The Final Four saw all three games sit between 25% and 30% of viewers between 2 and 34,, and all three games' had at least 37% of their viewing audience aged 55 or older, compared to a total of zero for the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals. The story was similar for the 2013 BCS, which had an audience comprised of between 23% and 28% viewers between 2 and 34. Each game's viewer base was also comprised of at least 38% adults 55 or older.
There aren't a lot of brand new conclusions we can draw from this demographic information. The tired talking point of "the games start too late" in regards to falling baseball ratings among youth has been effectively debunked, considering the two non-World Series games with the oldest average viewership were the Rose Bowl and the first NCAA National Semifinal – which began and 5 PM and 6 PM, respectively. The NBA Finals game with the oldest average audience was one of two games to start at 8 PM instead of 9 PM.
The data does confirm the issues facing MLB in terms of their aging audience compared to other sports, though I was a little shocked to see how much younger the NHL's audience trended in comparison to that of the Final Four and BCS. It's an interesting look at which sports draw younger and older audiences, and you can really spin the results in any direction you want.