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MIGRATION, TOURISM AND NEAR-UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO BROADCASTS AND SOCIAL MEDIA HAVE UNLOCKED BILLIONS OF POTENTIAL FANS — but they don’t live in your city, and don’t necessarily speak your language. The next 10 years will be a gold rush, as professional teams and leagues race to claim this emerging audience.

Fundamental Factors Driving Global Fandom


The middle class is expected to increase by 1.4 billion people over the decade—a 42% increase in South America, 59% increase in Africa and 83% increase in Asia. As societies grow younger and more educated, their interest grows in sports, politics and culture. They have the income for game tickets and monthly television bills. By 2030, the middle class of Europe is expected to have twice the total SPENDING POWER as the North American middle class. The Asian middle class will have six times the spending power.


With over 11 million Mexicans now living in the US, LIGA MX on Univision has an American audience that is 19% larger than NBC’s audience here for the English Premier League.

With well over 2 million South Asians in the US, Cricket is finally here. New York City councilman Ruben Wills broke ground on a cricket complex in Van Cortlandt Park, where the local Commonwealth Cricket League has over 100 teams. Exhibition attendance and ESPN ratings are climbing.

Emigration from Canada to the UK is helping the popularity of the British Elite Ice Hockey League, where teams such as the Nottingham Panthers draw over 5,000 fans to games.


In addition to CCTV-5, the government’s sports channel, China allows CSPN and Shanghai Sports, as well as online channels Baofeng Sports (Chinese Super League) and LeTV (American baseball, golf and ATP tennis).

Indian law requires à la carte channel purchases; 161 million households have cable or satellite television carrying Prime Sports, Star Sports and ESPN, while pay-per-view has not thrived, keeping sports available to the masses.

IPTV eradicates the difference between online and broadcast delivery. The most-regulated broadcast markets have the greatest IPTV penetration.

Smartphones and 5G Connectivity give billions of new fans access.


Half of the most recent NBA draftees were internationals.

The players in the Premier League represent 70 countries. Only one-third of the 220 starting players on opening day were English.

The top 100 players in Tennis, across both genders, are from 45 countries. Players from 30 countries have won a grand slam. And so far it’s the only sport with a truly global tour.

89% of avid female sports fans in America played some school sports growing up. By that measure, the demographic trends for female fandom will power growth.

But the US is no world leader in female fandom; other markets are even further along. Participation in school sports is higher in the UK, and far higher in China, where 86% of girls participate in school sports. The percent of women who regularly watch sports on television is 10% higher in India, Russia and Brazil than in the US.


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