MarketCast State of Fandom Report Wave 3

MarketCast State of Fandom Report Wave 3

Impact of COVID-19 on Media, Entertainment and Sports



Since mid-March, MarketCast has analyzed the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of media, entertainment and sports fans as they increasingly learn to cope with the impact of COVID-19 and its disruption to their work and personal lives.

Our survey of more than 1,000 consumers, combined with analysis of millions of social media conversations, is updated weekly to identify the changing sentiment among fans.

The result is this comprehensive report detailing how people from all walks of life are managing their time, spending their money, and engaging with one another and popular forms of media and entertainment.

The MarketCast State of Fandom Report Digs Deep to Understand:

  • How are people coping with social distancing and what forms of media are they engaging with most?
  • Are people gravitating to local, national and cable TV and digital news or are they finding alternative sources?
  • What is the impact of the virus on media spending habits for cable TV and streaming subscribers?
  • Will sports fans return to live events once the crisis ends?
  • How are sports fans filling the void?
  • How will brand behaviors during the pandemic impact consumer perceptions when we return to normalcy?

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Video Discovery, the New Word of Mouth Webinar

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Millennials, Money and What Matters Most: How Does it All Add Up?

Editor’s Note: Before the current economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, MarketCast teamed up with Dow Jones to study the relationship between Millennials and money for a series of articles published in the Wall Street Journal. While this current crisis is affecting every generation, MarketCast believes the insights uncovered about Millennials and their finances remain timely and relevant.

Millennials Are a Big Deal: By the Numbers

Savvy brands are taking a close look at their relationships with the Millennial generation – encompassing consumers who are currently 24-39 years old. There’s no mistaking the impact this large audience is already having, and no doubt that it will continue to grow in significance. Consider a few key stats about Millennials:

  • 24% of the US population as of 2019 – just behind Boomers
  • 35% of the US workforce – predicted to rise to 50% by 2025
  • $30 trillion – what they’ll inherit in the next 30 years

As these numbers suggest, establishing a relationship with Millennials is critical for any company. Their buying power and influence are steadily rising, and they are poised to reshape the landscape, similar to how Boomers before them reshaped the culture in their own image. To better understand Millennials and their impacts, we have spent a lot of time researching the beliefs and behaviors that shape their brand relationships.

In one recent study, partnered with the Wall Street Journal, we looked at the relationship between Millennials and finance. Through qualitative and quantitative research, we looked at what makes Millennials distinct – their concerns and hopes, and the preferences and habits these shape. While the study focused on finance in particular, the lessons learned can extend to brands in almost any industry seeking to establish a deeper and more lasting connection with this crucial generation.

The Millennial Mindset

Our work with Millennials consistently shows certain mindsets; this study in particular shows three key themes differentiating this generation:

  • Inner Focus: Millennials strive for self-growth and independence, prioritizing their own needs first in order to be a better colleague, friend, and parent.
  • Fulfillment: They are not willing to settle and are insistent on living a meaningful life with fulfilling jobs, pursuing their passions, exploring the world, and constantly learning to expand their minds and their lives.
  • Global Impact: They are more mindful of their global and local footprints, and they place greater emphasis on making a wider difference today, recognizing that they are a part of an increasingly global community.

What Matters to Millennials?

This mindset shapes what matters to Millennials and how they engage with the world. We found that on average Millennials were passionate about more causes than Gen X and Boomers before them, and that they felt more strongly about these causes as well. Climate change tops the list, but is closely followed by human rights, poverty, and related issues around taking care of humanity and the natural world.

“We are responsible for the maintenance and care of the earth, and all of humanity has worth, so it should be valued and cared for — I fight for social/environmental justice.”

While Millennials tend to care about a broader range of issues, their time-horizon is in some ways more limited than that of prior generations. Millennials tend to be focused on the here and now. While the future is important to them, they are rooted in the present, and seek immediate impact. This is reflected in what they prioritize – like trying to balance spending time with loved ones, a healthy lifestyle, a successful career and their desire for constant self-improvement. In turn, things that are less immediate feel less important.

Millennials and Brands

These passions, values, and perspectives converge in how Millennials engage with brands. Millennials want companies to share their values and tend to buy products from those who do.

  • 55% of Millennials state that they currently purchase things that explicitly align with their values.
  • Just over half state that they would spend more on a product or experience that shares their values, even when there are cheaper options available.

Millennials and Finance

So, how do these perspectives shape how Millennials approach the issues of finance and money? The answers are influenced by the arc of history that Millennials have witnessed in their lifetimes. The idea of a stable and secure world has been elusive for Millennials. When most were teens, they experienced the traumatic events of 9/11. Only seven years later, the great recession dampened their ability to start or develop careers. And now, Millennials are facing the health and economic impact of COVID-19, just as many of them are establishing career paths and are supporting young, growing families.

Even before this latest economic crisis, stagnating wages and student loan debt had inhibited their ability to find a financial footing and establish the foundations of financial security. These circumstances (pre COVID-19), have had lasting repercussions for how Millennials feel about the financial system at large:

  • 50% feared that the stock market would crash again
  • 4 in 10 don’t know whom to trust with their finances
  • 1/3 explicitly don’t trust financial institutions

The combination of substantial debt, lack of financial knowledge and a generally pessimistic world view means that fully half of Millennials feel overwhelmed by their financial burdens. This distrust has also created a gap in financial literacy. Millennials are not engaging with the institutions that previously would have helped them learn how finances and investing work. As a result, perhaps the most prevailing question for Millennials and finance is simply: Where do I start?

What Should Brands Do? Align with What Matters

This mindset of anxiety and insecurity creates a strong challenge for Millennials, and the brands that want to connect with them. So, how can brands – both financial and non-financial – establish better, deeper connections with Millennials? The answer is both simple and significant: Trust.

Experts ranging from social influencers to traditional wealth managers believe that trust is essential to forming meaningful relationships with clientele. For Millennials, this means emphasizing things like transparency and accountability. They place a premium on clear and reassuring communication. And, they seek out reputable and robust sources of information and guidance.

From Priorities to Practices

Our biggest finding, consistent with our previous learning about this generation turning their values into actions, is that Millennials place less emphasis on ROI than Gen X or Boomers. Instead, they prioritize investments that align with their values. This suggests that there are significant rewards for companies that can successfully tap into Millennials’ values. To do that, we suggest three best practices:

  1. Know where Millennials are in their financial journey and meet them there. There’s a lot they need to learn.
  2. Establishing trust is a must. Millennials have a fragile relationship with finance and financial institutions.
  3. Identify how your brand can authentically align with Millennial values, from the brand mission to products and experiences. Doing so may very well lead to Millennials taking concrete action to support your brand.

Again, while we surfaced these findings in connection to finance with the Wall Street Journal, they suggest a broader application that can be extended to other types of brands. Meeting Millennials where they are, building trust, and authentically aligning with their values will become ever-greater priorities as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis and Millennials continue to gain dominance in the marketplace.

We’d love to share more about how our unique expertise and solutions can help your business move forward. Drop us a line and we’ll be in touch!

MarketCast Sports Poll: The Impact of COVID-19

This month’s MarketCast Sports Poll (formerly Turnkey Sports Poll) examines how sport business professionals think their segments will emerge post-pandemic. Not surprisingly, as most of our colleagues remain sidelined, the general outlook has declined. But, the poll addresses some burning questions that sports enthusiasts and professionals are all asking, including the length of time it will take for fans and the sports world to return to normalcy. And what will the new “normal” look like?

As some politicians ponder banning all large sporting events for the remainder of the year, our poll finds the majority of sports insiders believe sports operations will resume by this fall. They also believe the best way sports properties can stay engaged with fans in the meantime is by helping athletes produce more user-generated content to share on social media and digital platforms.

On a more optimistic note, industry executives expect that the disruption to live sporting events will further fuel sports fandom when the industry inevitably bounces back. However, over half of the respondents surveyed believe that the top 100 sponsors in sports will reduce their spending for the remainder of 2020.

MarketCast Sports Poll

1. Approximately when do you think the business of sports in the U.S. will return to normalcy?


2. How will fans respond to the eventual return of live sports?


3. Which of the following is the best approach for sports properties to remain engaged with fans at the moment?


4. How will the top 100 sponsors in sports operate once sports return to normalcy?


5. Which of the following is your go to alternative to the limited social interactions at the moment?


6. Thinking about your own particular business, what best describes your confidence level regarding the next 12 months for your own business?



In addition to our monthly Sports Poll, MarketCast Sports is tracking the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. sports fans and is sharing these insights with clients now. To learn more, contact us.

MarketCast Research Webinar on Harnessing Data to Drive Sports Sponsorships & Marketing Effectiveness

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MarketCast Research Webinar on Streaming Video Insights: Analyzing Shifts in Fan Behavior

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Streaming is Way Up, But Spending is Flat

Just a few short months ago, the Hollywood community was abuzz for what looked like the beginning of a new golden age for streaming. Netflix was doubling down on content as newcomers Disney+ and Apple TV+ were celebrating early successes with The Mandalorian and The Morning Show. The much-hyped Quibi was on deck to launch (yesterday), and NBC’s Peacock and HBO Max were looking to make some noise of their own.

The launch of more streaming services promised endless work for content creators, talent, agents and anyone else remotely related to the production and marketing chains. It was going to be awesome for fans as well – more platforms, more subscription models, and more choices than ever before. Then, everything ceased as COVID-19 began its all-out assault, pausing Hollywood productions, shutting movie theaters, sending hundreds of thousands of people to the hospital, and throwing our economy into a tailspin.

So, what happens now?

MarketCast started tracking fan engagement with original content and streaming platforms back in October 2019 using a combination of fan surveys and social media analysis to dive behind the walled gardens. Our Streaming Tracker identifies what’s trending and becoming popular among original series and library classics, as well as analyzes where fans are spending their money.

As the first few weeks of social distancing kicked-in, we were curious to see how the data changed as millions of Americans increased their time at home. Would they keep their same mix of paid streaming services, which averages two paid subscriptions per month, or would they experiment with spending more to find new original and library content to keep themselves and their families occupied?

The first two weeks of March saw a whopping 85 percent surge in streaming activity, according to Nielsen, making it plausible that consumers would spend more on subscriptions. Unfortunately, there is no indication of this happening yet. According to MarketCast’s Streaming Tracker data from February to March 2020, people are using more streaming services now than they were before, but they are spending nearly the exact same amount on them.

MarketCast found that fans are using an average of 3.2 streaming services (combined paid and ad-supported) per month, slightly higher than February 2020. However, they are only paying for an average of 2.2 services per month, flat from the previous period. The increase in streaming service usage, but lack of additional spend, could be attributed to a mix of factors including password sharing, longer trial periods from services like Apple TV+, and the rise of popular ad-supported streaming services, such as Pluto TV.

Of those surveyed by MarketCast, 55 percent would consider adding more paid services if there was content that appealed to them. That’s down 2 percentage points from the previous month. Meanwhile, 37 percent reported being less willing to add more paid streaming services to their spending mix at all, an increase from the previous reporting period.

Consumer Spending Trends: March 2020

What does this mean for newcomers to the space?

While we’re still in the early days of tracking this current crisis, early indications suggest new entrants might be fighting it out with existing services for share of wallet. Afterall, getting them to surpass the magic number of two paid subscription services was a hard enough when consumer confidence was high. How will they do it now, when unemployment is skyrocketing? We may be talking more about churn than subscriber expansion.

If an economic slowdown persists, it will be new territory for the streaming business. During the last economic recession, triggered by the housing crisis in December 2007, Netflix had just unveiled its streaming platform, but they were still shipping millions of shiny discs to our homes. And, while streaming music existed, most fans were still buying and downloading (yes, downloading) their music from the iTunes store.

The next few weeks and months promise to be interesting for entertainment industry insiders and fans alike. Newcomers might experiment with longer trial periods and tiered pricing models, as well as shuffling release schedules to lure new paid subscribers in and keep existing fans engaged. Those with deep vaults of original content might have an advantage over those that had their productions halted, and ad-supported models might see an increase in viewers. Only time will tell.

We’ll keep tracking and providing updates. In the meantime, stay healthy and stay streaming.

MarketCast Releases Streaming Data Covering First Few Weeks of Crisis

Streaming fans are using more streaming services than before, but spending on paid subscriptions remain flat, posing a challenge to new entrants to the space

LOS ANGELES, April 3, 2020 - Today, MarketCast released highlights from the latest MarketCast Streaming Tracker, a bi-weekly report that measures streaming video trends across top streaming video platforms. According to findings in MarketCast's March 14 to March 27 reporting period, streaming audiences gravitated to "distraction genres," such as classic comedy, dramas and unscripted docuseries, during the past two weeks of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, the MarketCast data highlights a desire among consumers to have more content, while remaining conservative in their spending for paid subscriptions.

The MarketCast Streaming Tracker delivers the industry's first Fandom Index™, featuring the top 25 Original and Library titles and a ranking of Streaming Services bi-weekly. It combines fan survey data gathered from thousands of U.S. streaming video subscribers with social sentiment analysis captured from millions of social media conversations.

Fan Engagement Metrics
MarketCast Engagement metrics determine if viewers have watched an original series or library catalog program during the reporting period.

  • Netflix remains dominant in viewership and fan engagement with 19 of the top 25 original series ranked by MarketCast's Fan Engagement metrics.
  • The top original series during the two-week reporting period include Netflix's On My Block and Stranger Things, as well as The Mandalorian from Disney+.
  • With audiences looking for "comfort viewing," the 2000s hit series The Office generated the highest MarketCast Engagement and Evangelism scores among classic and library shows.
  • Rounding out the top library series for fan engagement are Hulu's Rick and Morty and The Good Place, which is available on both Hulu and Netflix.

Fan Evangelism Metrics
MarketCast Evangelism metrics identify which programs fans are advocating for the most on social media.

  • The Netflix series Tiger King had the highest MarketCast Evangelism score of any series debut this year, reflecting the massive amount of social conversation the show received.
  • Since social buzz is often a leading indicator of eventual viewership, MarketCast anticipates Netflix's Tiger King to rank higher in Fan Engagement during its next reporting period.
  • The Hulu series Little Fires Everywhere debuted at #2 for Evangelism during the reporting period, a strong showing for the new Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington drama.

Consumer Spending Metrics
The MarketCast Streaming Tracker measured consumer spending and usage of paid and ad-supported streaming services during the period, findings include:

  • Streaming fans are paying for an average of 2.2 services per month, flat from the previous month.
  • They are using an average of 3.2 streaming services (combined paid and ad-supported) per month in March 2020, slightly higher than February 2020.
  • Streaming fans reported they are less willing to add more paid streaming services to their spending mix in March 2020 than in previous months, and future spend is anticipated to be relatively flat.

Additional Fan Insights

  • Social conversations about classic TV series centered around The Simpsons, Gilmore Girls, Seinfeld and other 90s and early 2000s comedies and teen dramas.
  • Conversations about unavailable content rose 80 percent, with fans of the Harry Potter franchise speaking the loudest, demanding the films in the series be available for streaming.
  • Social media conversations about Netflix and Disney+ password sharing surged more than 500%.

"Audiences are gravitating to streaming series that distract from the world around them with unscripted docuseries like Tiger King, classic comedies, such as The Office, and star-led series like Little Fires Everywhere, topping the latest MarketCast streaming fandom index," said Ben Carlson, SVP of Streaming and Platforms at MarketCast. "Additionally, our current data highlights the challenges facing new paid streaming services preparing to launch as consumer spending remains flat despite fans using more services than ever before."

The MarketCast Streaming Tracker identifies subscriber perceptions of the most popular streaming platforms, including Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, BET+, Disney+, Facebook Watch, Apple TV+ and others, to determine the factors shaping subscription loyalty and spending. Combined, MarketCast's analytics and insights about content and subscription health explain the impact of streaming programming and marketing decisions on the overall success of platforms.

The MarketCast Streaming Tracker is delivered directly to subscribers, with the option for clients to customize certain survey data to address specific research needs. To learn more about the MarketCast Streaming Tracker, visit


About MarketCast
MarketCast research, analytics and data science fuels fandom for leading studios, entertainment platforms, sports and lifestyle brands on the planet. Our unique mix of research analytics is combined with big data science to provide clients powerful insights to inform their biggest business decisions. Today, MarketCast counts some of the biggest names in entertainment as clients, including leading Hollywood studios, streaming services, lifestyle brands and sports leagues and teams. For more information, visit:

Press Contact
Graham McKenna