Is Gen Z Replacing the NFL with … Anime? New Studies Say ‘Yes’ and It’s Not Close

Is Gen Z Replacing the NFL with … Anime? New Studies Say ‘Yes’ and It’s Not Close

The following two things can both be true:

  • Football is the undisputed ratings king of American television.
  • Football is struggling to bring in younger viewers.

That seeming contradiction was somewhat explored in a study commissioned by video game site Polygon that sought to explore just how popular anime — a genre of Japanese cartoons — is in America.

The study, which surveyed 4,275 adults, sought to answer the question: “How important is anime, generationally?”

Well, unsurprisingly, there appeared to be a direct correlation between a generational divide and anime consumption.

Polygon’s study found the following rates of anime consumption, based on generation:

Gen Z (born mid- to late 1990s-early 2010s): 42 percent said they watch anime weekly.

Millennials (born early 1980s-mid-’90s): Seeing the first stark drop-off in the polling, just 25 percent of millennials said that they watch anime weekly.

Gen X (born 1965-early 1980s): Yet another sharp drop-off saw just 12 percent of Gen X respondents saying they watch anime weekly.

Boomers (born 1948-1964): A scant 3 percent said that they watch anime weekly.

Polygon, which conducted this study with Vox Media’s Insights and Research team and market research group The Circus, then pointed out a different study, this one by YPulse, that found just a paltry 25 percent of Gen Z respondents watched football.

The YPulse study also notes that a whopping 44 percent of millennials did watch football, and the trend was largely the inverse of the generational divide of anime watchers.

Interestingly, with a focus on millennials and Gen Z, it appears younger fans are almost replacing football with anime, and that was laid bare when the Polygon study explored why they were watching anime.

Here are some additional findings from the Polygon study:

  • More than three in four of the respondents watched anime “as an escape” from reality.
  • More than two in three of the respondents watched anime “for comfort or strength.”
  • Nearly half of the respondents watch anime to “pump themselves up.”

Getting pumped up? Needing comfort? Escaping the dreariness of real life?

Those all sound like reasons people watch and follow their favorite NFL teams.

“Football’s 100-year domination over American attention has been fueled by tribalism — everyone has a team, and when the team plays, they show up,” Polygon wrote in a follow-up piece.

“Polygon’s report data suggests similar instincts help anime become bigger than ever; more than half of anime fans polled have returned to a show they’ve already seen in the last 12 months, and more than half of millennial and Gen Z viewers say they have had a crush on an anime character.

“For these fans, anime is entertainment comfort food, and maybe something even deeper; based on results, over three in four Gen Z and millennial viewers say they use anime as an escape when they feel ‘overwhelmed, angry or sad.’”

As long as boomers, Gen X and millennials are around, the NFL will likely continue to dominate American airwaves.

But what happens in a few generations when Gen Z is the “old guard”?

That’s a grim future the NFL may be grappling with sooner than later.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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