Football fans have broadened their interests, embracing multiple codes to create a new category of footy follower, according to the latest Enhanced Media Metrics Australia trends and insights report on football, Play On!
The rise of the “omnivore” fan – a follower who may be passionate about one code but also interested in others – means that marketers who target traditional stereotypical footy followers could be restricting their potential reach, the emma report says.
Ipsos MediaCT managing director Simon Wake said the rise of A-league soccer supporters had contributed to the growing number of football supporters.
“Rather than fracture loyalty, soccer’s rise is seeing football fans share their love. As a result, the entire football market is growing,” Mr Wake said.
The emma report reveals that football fans are heavy media consumers. As a group, they are 13 per cent more likely to be heavy newspaper consumers.
To get their sporting news fix, football supporters also go online, but this varies across the states, with most readers preferring local news brands and mastheads.
Certain states are more devoted to a particular code than others, according to News Corp group editorial director Campbell Reid.
“Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia are more devoted to a single code, AFL, and the omnivore sports fan is not as prevalent in those states,” Mr Reid said in the report.
“However NSW – long an NRL bastion but also with strong rugby union roots – now has two AFL and four A-League teams.
“Queensland, in addition to being a strong NRL state, also has an affinity for rugby and historical links to AFL, which NSW never had.”
Mr Reid believes the multicultural support for one football code easily applies across the different codes.
“There is a direct correlation between support for the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Western Sydney Wanderers,” he said.
“I think that’s the case in a lot of European migrant communities, even third generation, and particularly for a club like Canterbury located where it is in Sydney: there is significant multicultural support for the Bulldogs that is transferable to a deep affinity with soccer.”
Chief sports editor for The Sydney Morning Herald Ian Fuge agrees. “A lot of rugby league fans identify with soccer,” he said in the emma report.
“Support for the Western Sydney Wanderers certainly crosses over with NRL and you could expect to see those same fans at Parramatta or Canterbury the next day.”
Last year, The Sydney Morning Herald surveyed website users throughout Australia across the Fairfax network in a sport survey.
“Eighty-eight per cent of our readers said they liked to follow multiple sports codes,” Mr Fuge said.
To download the full report, click here