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Sports fans move to interactive media says EIAA

New research from the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) shows that digital media is fast becoming the medium of choice for sports fans and pushing the boundaries of media convergence across TV, internet and mobile.

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According to EIAA data, twice as many sports fans use the internet while watching TV compared with the average user (32% vs. 16%); TV and internet now far outstrip other media at peak viewing times and twice as many sports fans watch video via mobile compared with the average mobile user (12% vs. 6%).

Key European Findings:

• 32% of sports fans use TV and Internet together compared with 16% of all users

• 73% of sports fans watch television and 68% use the internet during the peak media consumption period  (5.30-9pm)

• 39% of sports site users watch TV, film or video clips online and they are twice as likely as the average mobile/PDA/Blackberry user to watch video/film clips via their mobile (12% vs. 6%).
• Over a third (36%) of all European internet users currently visit sports sites
• Sports website users spend over 13 hours online each week, 10% more time than the average European spends online and an increase of 27% since 2004

The ‘Sport and the Shift to Interactive Media’ Report, the latest in the EIAA Mediascope Europe series, shows just how much sport affects media consumption. Over a third (36%) of all European internet users currently visit sports websites and these sports site users spend over 13 hours online each week, 10% more time than the average European and an increase of 27% since 2004.

"These figures are set to ramp up as we approach a summer full of hot-to-watch events such as Euro 2008 and the Olympics," said an EIAA spokesperson. "Events such as these can act as catalysts for media change as fans adopt new habits and technology in order to follow their favourite sports. Brands need to work out how best to reach and interact with this sports-driven audience as it develops and it is vital that marketers create strategies to take advantage of the media opportunities surrounding key sporting events."  
Watching sports online via video is proving a primary draw. According to EIAA data, nearly 40% of sports site users watch TV, film or video clips online, much more so than the average European internet user (39% vs. 30%). Interestingly, this activity has grown in popularity amongst sports site users by 144% since 2006. ComScore figures also show that from January to December 2007, time spent on sites with video streaming and downloads has increased by 72%, from 53 to 91 minutes. In March 2008 alone, nearly 154 million people visited these sites, an increase of 22% when compared to the same month in 2007. The most popular sites include Youtube, Windows Media and

According to ComScore, 912 million Europeans visited sports sites in 2007 - an average of 76 million per month - and further analysis of sports sites shows that visitors significantly peak during the big sporting spectaculars. For example, the number of European sport site users increased by around 5 million in September and October 2007 when the Rugby World Cup was on and when the Six Nations Rugby tournament took place in March this year, European sports site users rocketed to 84.7 million  (up from 77.4 million in February). 

EIAA research shows that from 5.30-9pm 73% of sports site users watch television and 68% use the internet, making them by far the most used media during this peak consumption time. The internet is also proving a medium for round-the-clock consumption and with 87% of sports site users having broadband, global events such as the Olympics in China this year, present additional high-impact opportunities for marketers to target this audience as they look to follow the action in real-time online.

According to the EIAA, this need for information and updates on the go is highlighted by the fact that 93% of sports site users own a mobile/PDA/BlackBerry (vs. 83% of all European internet users) and are heavy users of mobile internet. Interestingly, they are twice as likely as the average European mobile/PDA/BlackBerry user to watch video/film clips via their mobile (12% vs. 6%) and are more likely to perform other online activities on their mobile:

Additionally, almost half (48%) of all sports site users communicate via social networking sites and they are also more likely to have digital technology in their home. Nine out of 10 sports site users (91%) own a DVD player (compared to 75% of all European internet users) and 86% have a PC in their home (vs. 64%). This demonstrates a greater technological uptake by those that watch sports online and points to a heavy consumption in technological products which could be translated online in the future.

Ultimately, almost three-quarters (71%) of sports site users find that the internet provides them with what they want quickly and have positive attitudes to online advertising. In fact, 57% rated the internet high on creativity thus marking the demographic to be a more engaged and receptive group compared to the average European internet user (51%). 

Alison Fennah, Executive Director of the EIAA said: With a definite correlation between the increase of users of sports sites and the key sporting events over the past year, sports fans are becoming a targeted demographic this year.   Looking at their online habits and activities, sport site users are likely to increasingly move their sports consumption online partly due to its ease of use and accessibility, and but also its real-time availability and technological capabilities. Ultimately this highlights how marketers can target and benefit from this captive and engaged audience online, especially when the big sporting events demand attention. Marketers must look to tap into this trend and media mindset when creating and developing their advertising campaigns.

The study involved 7,008 random telephone interviews with over 1,000 respondents in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the Nordics respectively and 500 respondents in Belgium and the Netherlands respectively. Interviews were conducted throughout September 2007.

About the EIAA
The European Interactive Advertising Association ( is a unique pan- European trade organisation for sellers of interactive media. The primary objectives of the EIAA are to champion and to improve the understanding of the value of online advertising as a medium, to grow the European interactive advertising market by proving its effectiveness, thus increasing its share of total advertising investment.

Members include AD Europe, AdLINK Group, AOL Europe, Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions, Tiscali, Yahoo! Europe, LYCOS Network Europe, Atlas & DRIVEpm, Doubleclick, wunderloop, MTV Networks International and PREMIUM PUBLISHERS ONLINE. It is chaired by Michael Kleindl, Managing Partner of Valkiria Network. The EIAA members’ networks account for over 80% of the European online audience.

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