The European Football Championship that kicks off today is ray of hope for many football fans. After countless cancelled matches and empty stadiums, the tournament hopes to breathe life back into the sport. But how do Germans follow football coverage? Which media are the fans’ first port of call – and to what extent are they looking forward to potentially returning stadiums? The Gesellschaft für integrierte Kommunikationsforschung (Society for Integrated Communication Research, GIK) investigates this question and more in its latest b4p Trends survey.
Today’s opening match of the European Football Championship puts ‘the beautiful game’ back in the spotlight. Many have been yearning for this moment for months, which comes as no surprise as football is and remains Germany’s most popular sport, as a look at b4p’s data shows: 78 per cent of sports fans generally describe themselves football fans, regardless of age or gender. Half of those surveyed are even so enthusiastic about the sport that they have bought at least one item of football merchandise. However, only 11 per cent of Germans play football themselves on a regular basis.
Print also benefits from the fascination with football
Professional football has seen drastic changes over the last year, with stadiums becoming ghost towns and some matches being cancelled. 16 per cent of respondents said that they have followed more sporting events
in the media since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic than they did before. Television broadcasters and social media channels are the main choice for this, but print products have also seen a rise in popularity.
Football in particular is followed more actively in the media than other sports. 34 per cent of those surveyed regularly use the media to find out the latest news about the sport. This is once again significantly higher than second place Formula 1 (15 per cent) and third place biathlon (14 per cent). While it may not be a regular activity for them, a strong 64 per cent of Germans seek out news about football at least from time to time. For example, around 87 per cent of respondents say that they follow professional football on television programmes broadcast on free-to-air TV. Only 24 per cent of Germans subscribe to pay television providers such as Sky, on the other hand. People are more likely to opt for print products such as daily newspapers with a sports section or dedicated sports magazines – primarily by young men between 16 and 29 years of age.
International tournaments and high-profile matches are the highlights
Germans consider international tournaments such as the European Football Championship and World Cup as the pinnacle of football. 92 per cent of fans say that they watch these events at least from time to time. There is also hardly any difference between men and women here – international championships are popular with everyone.
Germany’s top division, the 1. Bundesliga (the ‘first’ Bundesliga), has similar potential to become just as popular. 91 per cent of respondents follow these matches at least from time to time, too. The German FA Cup (DFB Pokal) is also fairly popular, with 81 per cent of Germans watching it at least from time to time. Germany’s second division, the 2. Bundesliga (the ‘second’ Bundesliga), on the other hand, is less attractive: only 69 per cent watch matches from this division regularly or from time to time.
The coronavirus is driving growth for e-sports
It is also interesting to see that an increasing number of Germans are taking an interest in e-sports. 10 per cent of those surveyed are active in this area and 11 per cent say that they have found e-sports more attractive because of the pandemic. The game of choice, however, is and remains the beautiful one: at 35 per cent, the FIFA football video game series takes first place by some distance.
You can read about more exciting results and find out more information on the new b4p Trends study and other trend studies at b4ptrends.media (www.gik.media/b4p-trends/).