How Gen Z is Reshaping the Sports Landscape


Historically the sporting fan experience was either to show up and watch the game/ performance live, or watch it on TV. Today’s Gen Z sporting fans want sports media to slot into their lives. Short-form content wins - from general clips of Highlights, Quick Recaps to Condensed Versions of Games, to personalised options where they can choose the camera angle of the game, get real-time stats on their favourite players, or chose an Augmented Reality (AR) graphic overlay on a game to consume an entirely personalised and immersive experience.

A US & UK study by Vizrt, a provider of innovative visual storytelling tools for media content creators, highlighted that just 58% of Gen Zs enjoy live sporting events, with many ‘preferring to watch clips on their mobile’ when they are out and about as it’s more convenient.

“There’s a drastic shift in how the younger demographic are interacting with, and consuming sports content. To truly keep these fans engaged, broadcasters must adapt their content for the younger generation’s viewing habits. Millennials and Gen Z want shorter, snappier content they can watch on the go, but that is rich with AR graphics, real-time data, and exciting analysis to feel fully immersed in the game.” Pino Barile, Head of Sport, USA, Vizrt

Short-form video sports content is predicted to increase more than 100% in the next year, outstripping the rate of growth for live rights. Also, with only 16% of Gen Zers claiming to want TV episodes to last an hour, watch out for the demise of the two hour-plus TV sports fixture.


Whether it’s The Rugby World Cup, (The World Rugby U20 World Championships is kicking off in South Africa this weekend), MMA, The FIFA Women's World Cup next month, The League of Legends World Championship (Oct ‘23) or an upcoming Local Ultimate Frisbee League or Parkour Competition …chances are Gen Z is into it..

But what can mainstream sport learn from emerging and fast-growing sport cultures?

Esports is the home domain of Gen Z, (by 2024, the number of eSports enthusiasts is predicted to reach a total of 577.8 million) and expected to gain Olympic status in 2028. Extreme sports is also top of their viewing agenda - A GWI global survey in advance of the Winter Olympics in 2022 found that while figure skating was the no.1 sport for the majority, it was extreme sports that Gen Z and millennials were more interested in watching. Athletics is also having a moment with the Gen Z cohort fascinated by the personal triumph of young stars who are pushing themselves to their limits and breaking new records - watch 20-year-old Irish athlete Rhasidat Adeleke win gold for the University at Texas at the recent NCAA Championship to see how she is inspiring her Gen Z peers. In general, sports that emphasise individuality, creativity, and self-expression all stand a chance of showing up in the Gen Z sports repertoire.

Ultimate Frisbee is perfectly designed for the Gen Z mindset. There aren’t any referees or officials: all conflicts on the pitch are resolved between players even at the highest level, so the importance of the “spirit of the game” is something ingrained in each player from the start of their time playing. After each game, both teams join in a huddle to discuss the positives and negatives of the game together, which means camaraderie in the community stretches far beyond the people on your team.” Eimhin, 30, Dublin - The Love Network


Big Fan Channels from big global sports brands like Manchester United, the Dallas Cowboys and LA Lakers etc. are on the rise. Communities that bond through shared passions. Growth of niche online communities is also happening; from Canadian ice hockey setups to fifth tier UK football teams; capturing the imagination of a new generation. Let’s take a moment for Wrexham, a proud Welsh soccer team, acquired by the actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. The dynamic duo have deployed their Hollywood storytelling techniques; scoring big marketing goals for Wrexhamn’s community of fans. (Fun fact: Wrexham goalkeeper Ben Foster live blogs during games!).

“The big fan channels get a lot of stick, but when you support a small local team and you can’t rely on mainstream media to cover them. It’s also nice to listen to people that actually care and are passionate about your team.” - Cian, 24, Dublin, The Love Network

For many Gen Z sports enthusiasts, fan channels have become the go-to source for young sports enthusiasts - they’re fun, accessible, offer a fresh perspective and lots of engagement. Gen Z can engage in real-time discussions, debates, and reactions, fostering a sense of community among sports fans worldwide. Check out KOT4Q on YouTube, The Bleacher Report on Instagram and NBA on TikTok for best-in-class content showcasing behind-the-scenes footage, interactive challenges, pop culture references, and conversational tones that encourage individuality and self-expression.

And with viral sports moments opening up young sports fans to new sports interest in non-local sports will only increase. Indeed, fandoms today are no longer inhibited by geography, with future fandoms likely to become more diverse.


Equality, inclusivity and diversity are core to the Gen Z DNA and influence their sports outlook. From calling out for boycotts to the World Cup in Qatar, to demanding new ownership and decision models, Gen Z wants a say in how their favourite sports evolve, and they want sports orgs, teams and athletes to take a stand on social issues and give airtime to those over overlooked (#genderquality). Often cited as the ‘great leveller’ sport has enormous potential to challenge bias, discrimination and inequalities and bring people together. Here’s to FIFA Women’s Champion 2023 receiving the air coverage it deserves, and to the many national and international programmes who, together with brand partners, work to increase participation in sport.

"At SuperValu supporting vibrant communities is one of our key pillars in delivering real action that has a positive sustainability impact. We are committed to fostering inclusive communities throughout the year, but during the month of June, we proudly raise our PRIDE flag. As we embark on our third year of the #CommunityIncludesEveryone campaign, in partnership with the GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, our goal is to increase participation in GAA sports among individuals from diverse backgrounds by 30% by 2025. To commemorate this year's Pride month, we are excited to introduce our 'Wear with Pride' Laces campaign. Rainbow laces will be available for purchase at over 222 SuperValu stores nationwide throughout June, with proceeds going towards supporting Belong To, LGBTQ+ Youth Ireland."- Maighread Cremin, Community & Sponsorship Manager, Musgrave


Choose Bite-Sized Content: Gen Z's preference for bite-sized content on social media platforms signifies the importance of creating concise and captivating content that can be easily consumed and shared. Content focus should be on creating short-form videos, highlights, and engaging visual content that can grab Gen Z's attention. Collaborating with content creators or leveraging user-generated content can also help amplify reach and engagement.

Cultivate Authenticity and Transparency: Gen Z craves authenticity and seeks behind-the-scenes access to athletes' lives. Prioritising genuine stories and moments that resonate with Gen Z's values and aspirations will help cut through. Collaborating with athletes who embody authenticity and leveraging their personal journeys can help foster deep connections with Gen Z sports fans. Transparent brand messaging and socially conscious initiatives can also align with Gen Z's desire for purpose-driven engagement.

Champion Athlete Activism and Social Impact: Gen Z athletes are increasingly using their platforms to raise awareness about social issues and demand change within the sporting industry. There are opportunities for brands to align themselves with athletes who are actively engaged in social impact initiatives that resonate with Gen Z's values. By supporting and amplifying these voices, brands can showcase their commitment to meaningful change and connect with Gen Z on a deeper level.


Happy Pride to all - this weekend Aboslut is collaborating with Mother again in Dublin City, with the Mother Block Party kicking off tonight and a special Absolut X take on the afterparty..

Taylor Swift finally brought out international dates - with two nights in Dublin planned for 2024. We talked about the singer in one of our most recent Insights, check it out to get a glimpse of the megastar’s impact on fandom culture right now.