In Focus: Who are NFL fans and how can brands engage them?

Following Paramount’s announcement that Super Bowl LVIII linear TV ad slots have “virtually sold out”, attention has turned to digital channels for brands looking to engage NFL fans at next year’s headline sporting event.


With over 410 million fans globally, the National Football League (NFL) is the largest sports property in the world. For brands, the passion and emotion the NFL evokes creates an unmatched opportunity to target and engage sports audiences at scale.

Over half (51%) of the United States are fans of the NFL while almost 140 million Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 have engaged with America’s premier football league within the past 12 months. The last year also saw over two-thirds of American men (70%) and over half of American women (53%) engage with the NFL.

Knowing NFL fans in the digital world

Today’s NFL fans enjoy a 24/7, year-round experience with non-stop content across pretty much every digital channel. Live NFL games – especially Sunday Night Football (NBC) and Monday Night Football (ESPN/ABC), as well as the NFL’s special Sunday game-day simulcast NFL RedZone – remain the cornerstone of the U.S. sports landscape.

88 out of the top 100 most-watched TV broadcasts in the U.S. in 2022 were NFL games and 58% of Americans engage with the NFL on a weekly basis. That continued interest is true for the next generation of fans, too – more fans between the ages of 18-29 are interested in the NFL than in 2021, up from 31% to 33%.

In 2022, Thursday Night football – provided via Amazon Prime’s streaming service for the first time ever – averaged just over 11 million viewers each week as NFL fans turn to streaming platforms rather than just linear TV for live game viewing.

In fact, 61% of NFL fans aged 18-29 say they prefer to watch a game via a streaming platform than live TV, almost double the rate of fans over the age of 30.

When it comes to 18-29 year-old fans, highlight videos, social media content and off-the-field lifestyle content dominate the NFL experience:

  • 29% would choose to watch a highlight-curated service such as NFL RedZone than one or two full feature games per weekend
  • 12% say they have played Madden recently
  • 23% have already watched Netflix’s ‘Quarterback’ series, compared to 16% of fans over 30

Meanwhile, almost one fifth of all NFL fans played fantasy football last year. As of today, four of the top 10 most streamed sports podcasts in America are dedicated entirely to fantasy football.

Unique NFL campaigns available

Advertisers have a number of ways to tap into the digital NFL opportunity. Through Genius Sports’ specialist digital sports agency service, many brands leverage our sports-focused programmatic trading desk, which includes owned audiences, wall-gardened sports inventory, exclusive audience data and custom buying models for targeted display, video and connected TV advertising.

Brands like Diageo’s Smirnoff Vodka and Verizon benefit from our live data API integration with Meta, X and Snap – powered by our exclusive NFL live data access – to automate and deliver contextual real-time social media activations before, during and after games.

PepsiCo, the Denver Broncos, and the Las Vegas Raiders use the increasingly popular gamification strategy to engage NFL fans and capture zero-party data and marketable audience data of NFL fans, helping them get ahead of the cookie phaseout.

Want to target and engage sports fans at Super Bowl LVIII? Speak to our team.

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