Quarantine has frozen most sports programming, but that hasn’t stopped sports fans from watching anything that’s competitive.
It’s hard to rank what has been most negatively impacted by the pandemic, but live sporting events have a place high up on the list. Whether we’re talking about visiting a crowded stadium, going to a sports bar or even to watching a game from the comfort of your couch, all of these activities ground to halt once we realized the depths of the pandemic.
Now that live sports aren’t an option, what do fans watch? Research says that a little bit of everything.
Nielsen data shows that hardcore sports fans haven’t given up on TV. In fact, they might be consuming even more of it, filling their time with sports reruns, news coverage, Netflix, and more. There’s been a rise of eSports and, stranger still, marble racing. Here’s what sports fans are turning to while large events are in lockdown.
The Hollywood Reporter explains that Nielsen refers to serious sports fans as “heavy sports viewers.” During the first month of the pandemic, this demographic watched three times more sports than the general adult population. Since there were no live games, this content was made up of sports reruns, sports related programming and the like. These viewers were also watching more news and video on demand when compared to other adults.
During March, Time magazine reported that there was a 31% increase in Twitch traffic, the most popular website for competitive video streaming. While these events used to be held in large arenas with big crowds, people can continue to train, play and compete with others online. “This is a time where our fans need something to watch, need something to entertain them, need something to distract them from the things that are going on around them, even if it’s just for a short time,” said League of Legends Championship Series Commissioner Christopher Greeley.
The weirdest entry on this list is marble racing, an activity that has almost no human input, with the winners being decided by fate and gravity. These races are made up of very elaborate stages and events, held in different YouTube channels like Jelle Marble Runs. This account has organized events such as Marbula One and Last Marble Standing, which include commentators, crowds made of marble people, and impeccable video production. Over the past month, marble races were highlighted in “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” and were broadcast for the first time on ESPN. Humans will really watch and find meaning in anything.