March 9, 2020

New Study by NYU School of Professional Studies Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport Challenges Previous Assumptions About Female Sport Fandom

Among the Highlights, Research Finds Working Women Engage in More Frequent Sports Consumption Behaviors than Non-Working Counterparts; and Urban/Minority Fans Rely More on Technology in Their Sports Engagement than Women in Suburban and Rural Communities    

NEW YORK, March 9, 2020 Female sport fandom is on the rise, but sports organizations and brands haven’t always addressed the needs of this important sports consumer. A new study by the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYU SPS) Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport, “Female Sport Fandom: Insights from the Growing Female Market,” aims to help the sports industry better appreciate and connect with today’s female fans.

“Understanding female sport fandom is not only important to teams that want to increase attendance and merchandise sales, but also to brands and sponsors that are interested in connecting with this demographic,” said Brianna Newland, PhD, academic director and clinical associate professor at the Tisch Institute, who conducted the research with her colleague, Ted Hayduk, PhD, a clinical assistant professor. “Despite the ubiquity of sport fandom in the United States, there are far too many assumptions about, and limited research conducted on, female fandom.”

“Common assumptions are that women only go to sporting events to be with their husbands or boyfriends, only watch sports to socialize, and are only superficial fans who didn’t understand the games. Our study confirms that these assumptions are false,” added Newland.

Newland noted that in the most lucrative North American professional leagues (NHL, NASCAR, MLS, NBA, MLB, and the NFL), women account for between 37% and 45% of the total market. Furthermore, women purchase 46% of official NFL merchandise, spend 80% of all sports apparel dollars, and control 60% of all money spent on men’s clothing.

For their study, sponsored by FOX Sports, Newland and Hayduk examined responses from 1,796 women across different geographies, age groups, socioeconomic backgrounds, and households, who were followers of a wide range of professional sports—including the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, eSports, and stock car racing.

Key takeaways for the study include:

  • Age was a strong predictor of female fandom: Younger female fans reported stronger fan behavior and positive attitudes than older fans.
  • Younger female fans also displayed stronger motives for live sport than older fans.
  • Younger female fans were more likely to consume general online content, stream games, use technology sources to learn about their team, and follow their favorite team on social media.
  • Urban female fans used technology to consume sport more than those outside of cities.
  • Urban fans believed live sport programming was the most authentic way to consume sports compared to those living outside the city.
  • Working female fans consumed online content, watch sport live, and buy merchandise more than non-working fans.
  • Female fans with children reported higher levels of sport consumption addiction than those without children.

For a copy of the white paper summarizing the results of this study, click here.

About the NYU School of Professional Studies Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport
Recent innovations in global sports consumption, the use of online and social media to engage and to build a fan base, and the implementation of redesigned sports business models, have resulted in a range of issues and opportunities for individuals working in the sports industry. Successful professionals in this field now need to understand strategic business principles as they apply to different aspects of the global sports industry.

Through interdisciplinary curricula, field internships, alumni-student mentorship, applied research, individualized degree advisement, a dedicated and accomplished advisory board, and faculty members who are experts in their fields, the NYU School of Professional Studies Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport provides the pathway to help students meet their professional goals in the sports business industry.

The Tisch Institute's graduate and undergraduate programs provide a top-notch education and the opportunity to meet and to network with industry leaders. Its location in New York, home to more sports teams, leagues, and media outlets than any other metro area in the country, offers the perfect setting for gaining a comprehensive overview of the complexities of the business. The Institute’s renowned, highly attended professional conferences and events provide an unparalleled opportunity to learn from leaders in their fields. For more information, visit

About the NYU School of Professional Studies
For 85 years, the NYU School of Professional Studies has been a deeply respected institution of higher education that is grounded in applied learning. From its early years, training returning World War II veterans to fulfill the nation’s urgent need for skilled technical workers, it has evolved into a professional education powerhouse that offers 20 graduate degrees, 13 bachelor’s degrees for traditional and post-traditional students, four associate’s degrees, and a plethora of non-degree courses and credentials.

NYUSPS is a thought leader, and serves as an incubator for new ideas in industries that are constantly changing, including real estate, real estate development, and construction management; hospitality, tourism, travel, and event management; global affairs and global security, conflict, and cybercrime; global sport and sports business; publishing; marketing; public relations; project management; executive coaching and organizational consulting, human resource management and development, and human capital analytics and technology; management and systems; translation; and professional writing. It is focused on building skills that open doors to opportunities in emerging fields and global markets. NYUSPS faculty members are leading experts in their areas of discipline, with a hands-on approach that encourages students to push beyond their limits and to break new ground.

Home to some of the largest and most prestigious industry conferences in the world, including the Schack Institute of Real Estate’s Capital Markets Conference, REIT Symposium, and National Symposium of Women in Real Estate; and the Jonathan M. Tisch Center’s International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, the School’s invaluable connections to industry leaders are a truly distinguishing factor in the education that it provides. Through career development services and resources provided by the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development at NYUSPS, guest lecturers, site visits, participation in numerous conferences and events, and Global Field Intensives, students benefit from an NYU education that will set them apart. In addition, they have the opportunity to learn from and network with more than 27,000 NYUSPS alumni who live, work, and contribute to innovation in industry around the world. To learn more, visit

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