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Viewership Deep Dive: Where Are the Country’s Biggest Sports Fans?

Fall is that magical time of year when five of the most popular sports are on TV. At this point, baseball’s wound down with the Red Sox winning the World Series, while (NFL and college) football is entering the stretch run. The NHL and NBA also just started new seasons last month.

We partnered with Inscape, the TV data company with glass-level insights from a panel of more than 9 million smart TVs and devices, to look into viewership crossover among all these events, including household location for tune-in, from mid-September to mid-November.

In particular, Inscape found:

  • Football, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the most popular among these sports fans, with crossover at 93% or above for each other sport. In the lead is baseball-viewing households, 95% of which have also tuned in to football games.
  • The second biggest crossover is between baseball-viewing households and basketball.
  • The lowest rate of crossover (6.6%) was found between football and hockey viewers. 

When it comes to viewer location, there’s fairly large difference between the sports. Football is, again predictably, pretty evenly spread out around the country. With both college and professional football captured here, it’s of little surprise to see hubs of higher viewership in the Midwest and Southeast areas. These regions are not only home to quite a few NFL clubs, but also the most profitable college conferences, the Big Ten and SEC.

Baseball hot spots are concentrated in the Northeast and eastern Midwest, with other dense sections of tune-in around Denver and Los Angeles — which makes sense given the (National League champion) L.A. Dodgers and Colorado Rockies both making this year’s playoffs, and the Red Sox winning the World Series.

Basketball pops in a few locations in particular: the Midwest, Texas and West Coast, with some of the biggest concentrations of viewers coming from the home of the most recent NBA Finals participants: the Bay Area (Golden State Warriors) and Northeast Ohio (Cleveland Cavaliers). The hotbed of hockey (in the U.S., anyway) appears to be all around Las Vegas, likely powered by the return of the reigning Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights after last year’s impressive run in their first season.

On the heatmaps below, the darker the color in the graphic, the more households were tuning in.

John Cassillo is an analyst and contributor with TV[R]EV.