In the wake of last summer’s social justice protests, which consumed sports for much of the second half of 2020, nearly half of all Americans changed their sports viewing habits, according to a new YouGov / Yahoo News poll. As athletes and leagues embraced a new, progressive strategy aimed at amplifying messages of social justice and political advocacy, some Americans began watching more sports, but about three times as many watched less.
Of those who watch sports on TV, about 11 percent said they now watch more as a result of political and social messaging. However, 34.5 percent, more than one-third, said they are watching less. The vast majority, roughly 56.3 percent, said they watch about the same amount regardless of political or social messaging.
Ratings across all major sports were down in 2020, the result of a range of factors including time-shifted sports calendars and the presidential election, but it’s clear from this poll that politics and social justice had some impact on the ratings decline.
Men were more likely to turn away from sports as a result of social messages; 37.6 percent of males said they had tuned in less, as opposed to 28 percent of females. Meanwhile, 13 percent of men said they watched more sports in the wake of social justice movements, as opposed to only 7 percent of women.