Never again will you say that football is number one spot in Nigeria. The love for the beautiful game is declining fast, especially among the young population, there seems to be aashift in the culture recently.
Research by GreenHunters Sport Marketing International found that 18 to 24-year-olds, the younger end of the so-called “millennial” age group, were significantly less likely to consider themselves as football fans than the older population.
It appeared to be a recent change, citing comparable research a decade ago that found 18 to 24 year-olds as major followers of football in the country.
According to the latest findings, young people in Nigeria now are less likely to identify football as their favorite form of programming on TV. Reality shows like Project Fame, Nigerian Idol, Nigeria Has Talents, Who Want to Be A Millionaire, Keeping Up With Kladeshinans... are winning in the media attention game.
7 out of every 10 millenials would rather want be like Wizkid, Davido, Patoranking or Chidinmma, rather than say Mikel obi, Kelechi Iheanacho or Asisat Oshoala. That's understandable since football isn't paying off like music in the local scene. There's no single star in the Nigerian league to model after... Of course, most young Nigerians are not even interested in NPFL.... and the complexity of transfering players abroad isn't helping matters at all.
When the largely supported teams in Nigeria, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal are not doing well like in the year past (2015/2016 season) the young people simply switch over to other programming on TV. These three PL clubs cumulatively have over 45 million fans in the country.
Attendance at Viewing centers and Sport bars across the country dropped by over 23% ... and subscriptions on DStv, which is usually influenced by football shows on SuperSports, declined by 18% in the last year.
To compound the situation, Nigeria national teams - were also not doing well... Super Eagles failed to qualify for 2017 AFCON, both Flying Eagles and Golden Eaglets also failed to qualify for Fifa U21 and U17 World Cup respectively. That really turned off the interest of most young people.
But the next age group 25 - 40 years olds didn't drop as much because they were largely sustained by their involvement in Sport Betting. Moreover, they were also the age group that increased in their followership and attendance of NPFL matches last year.
The data “ring alarm bells” notifying a possible blink future for football in the country and for businesses that rely on the sport as the main way of attracting subscribers and customers.
The rise of online streaming services such as YouTube, and Netflix, as well as social media such as Facebook live, Instagram, Twitter...was providing stronger competition for young people’s attention. The research showed they were much more likely to cite films or box-sets as their favorite entertainment on the new screen.
Coming into 2017, with Chelsea topping PL Table, Arsenal placed 3rd and Manchester United still struggling to come up the ranks, has not really tweeted the trend in any significant way. With the expectation of increase attendance in NPFL this season, Sport marketers still wonders how to catch the attention of these young people back to football.
If what is currently happening persist into a trend, then we could see in the following years that Sponsorships, stadium Ad, and TV rights may drop further down and might generally affect the commercial value of the game in Nigeria.