The Debate Is Settled: Fans Say October and November Are the Best Months for Sports
Survey conducted May 16-18, 2023, among 1,897 self-identified sports fans, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.
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One of the longest-running debates in sports fandom now has a definitive answer: Sports fans say that October and November are the best months of the year to be a fan.
October and November tied as sports fans’ favorite months at 10% each, according to a new Morning Consult survey, while nearly 1 in 3 self-identified fans (32%) said October to December is their favorite time frame to watch sports, making the fall the most popular three-month period of the year.
The period is marked by multiple annual sports equinoxes, when the four major U.S. men’s sports leagues all play on the same day. October includes the start of the NBA and NHL seasons, along with MLB playoffs and the thick of the NFL regular season.
Meanwhile, about 1 in 5 sports fans (21%) said they watch the most sports content during that same time frame, which also features college football action, among other popular sports TV programming. The winter months of January to March, which include the Super Bowl and the NCAA’s March Madness tournaments, were U.S. sports fans’ second favorite season.
Fall is king for sports
- Almost 1 in 5 sports fans said January to March (17%) and July to September (16%), respectively, are their favorite times to watch sports, according to the survey. The former period includes the College Football Playoff championship, the Super Bowl and NBA All-Star weekend, while the latter period features the kickoff to the NFL season, MLB’s Midsummer Classic, WNBA games and the start of college football.
- October and November are fans’ favorite individual months to watch sports, followed by January and February, which each earned 9% of the vote. May and June, which include the NBA and NHL playoffs, earned 6% and 5% of the vote, respectively.
Fans Say They Watch Sports Most Often in Fall
A generational breakdown of annual sports consumption
- About 1 in 4 Gen Xers (26%) said they consume sports content the most in any given year from October to December, the most popular time frame among the generations, compared with 16% of millennials and Gen Z adults.
- About 1 in 5 millennials (19%) said they watch the most sports content from January to March, making the group an outlier compared with older generations.
- Nearly 2 in 5 sports fans (37%) said they watch roughly the same amount of sports content throughout the year.
Sports viewership, by season
In 2022, live sports accounted for 94 of the top 100 TV broadcasts in the United States, including 19 of the top 20 telecasts, according to analysis by Sports Business Journal. Among those games (all of which were NFL), one event — Super Bowl LVI between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams — occurred in February, while seven happened from September to December. Still, January marked the most-watched month for sports, the analysis found, with 11 NFL regular-season and postseason games among the year’s top TV telecasts.
So if a sports fan says their favorite season is fall or winter, football likely has a lot to do with it. Other sports don’t move the needle nearly as much — either in fan preference or in viewership behavior.
The May 16-18, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,204 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.
Mark J. Burns is a sports analyst on the Industry Intelligence team, where he conducts research, authors analyst notes and advises leaders in the sports industry on how to apply insights to make better business decisions. Before joining Morning Consult, he served as a beat reporter at Sports Business Journal, covering the business of hockey and soccer. Mark graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in history and holds a Juris Doctor from Belmont University. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected].