Pro Football is America's Favorite Sport By Far
NFL 2012 Football
America's favorite sport? Once again, professional football claims the top spot! And its popularity keeps growing.
For more than four decades, according to The Harris Poll, the NFL has been the most popular sport in America.
In its most recent survey, Harris -- the pioneer in market research -- reveals that pro football is the favorite sport of more than one-third of people (36 percent). That is nearly three times the next favorite sport, with 13 percent of people claiming baseball as their favorite sport. The gap between pro football and baseball has widened in the past year; last year, 31 percent said pro football was their favorite sport while 17 percent chose baseball.
In addition, professional football has gained in popularity more than any other sport since 1985 with a 12 percent increase (from 24 to 36 percent).
The third favorite sport in the survey is college football at 13 percent, meaning that football is the favorite sport of nearly half of America's sports fans (49 percent).
Women's Impact on NFL Keeps Growing
What are women watching? NFL football.
The three most-watched shows ever among women are all Super Bowls. Last season, Super Bowl XLVI was watched by an average of 43.3 million women, which is second all-time to the 43.5 million women who watched Super Bowl XLV. A year before that, 41.9 million women tuned in for Super Bowl XLIV. Prior to Super Bowl XLIV, the largest female audiences were the 40.9 million (February 23, 1994) and 38.6 million (February 25, 1994) women who watched the 1994 Winter Olympic figure skating competition featuring Nancy Kerrigan.
Additionally, the 43.3 million women who watched Super Bowl XLVI are greater than the total audiences for the 2012 Grammy Awards (39.9 million) and the 2012 Academy Awards (39.3 million).
Overall, nearly 80 million women watched the NFL last season and roughly 310,000 women attended NFL games each weekend. Forty-four percent of NFL fans are women and 60 percent of females (ages 12 and older) consider themselves NFL fans.
The five most popular sports according to The Harris Poll (released January 25, 2012):
|T5||Men's Pro Basketball, Men's College Basketball, Hockey||5|
The NFL has been recognized as America's most popular sport for the past 47 years, rated No. 1 by fans in the Harris Poll since 1965. In fact, more people name professional football (36 percent) as their favorite sport than the combined total of the next four professional sports -- baseball (13), auto racing (eight), men's pro basketball (five) and hockey (five). NFL popularity can be measured in other ways as well. For instance:
NFL games on CBS, FOX and NBC averaged 19.8 million viewers -- 113 percent higher than the average primetime viewership among the four major over-the-air networks (9.3 million average on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC).
Super Bowl XLVI reached a total audience of 159 million viewers, making it the second most-viewed television show of all time (second to Super Bowl XLV, 163 million), according to Nielsen Media Research. In addition, a record average of 111.3 million viewers watched Super Bowl XLVI -- topping last year's mark of 111 million for Super Bowl XLV.
According to the 2011 ESPN Sports Poll, the NFL moved up two percentage points to become the favorite sport of 26% of respondents. Combined with college football (10%), football is the favorite sport of 36% of America's sports fans.
The number of NFL video game units sold increased to 5.4 M from 5.2 M according to The NPD Group. The next bestseller, NBA video games, decreased from 4.2 M to 2.1 M during the same time period.
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