Football Enjoyment Research

Posted by Canstar Blue February 27th 2015

A family-friendly atmosphere is the most important aspect of going to watch live football in Australia – even more important than getting value for money.

That’s one of the findings of our first ever Footy Fans Survey which has revealed the positives and negatives of following Australia’s four professional football codes – in the eyes of the people who matter most, the fans.

Not only do Aussie sports fans want a safe, family-friendly atmosphere when they watch their team in live action, but they also care passionately about the image of their sport, our study shows.

Football Research: Why fans love the game

We found that a family-friendly atmosphere, safety, and the image of the game are the three biggest drivers of satisfaction. It seems these three factors go a long way to determining fans’ overall live match enjoyment, regardless of whether or not the action on the field lives up to their expectations – and the cost of tickets.

Attribute How much it drives football fan enjoyment
Family-friendly atmosphere 27%
Image of the game 24%
Safety 19%
Merchandise 8%
Ticket purchase experience 8%
Value for money 6%

Across all football codes, 84% of fans said they would be happy taking children to watch live matches, while 69% said players are good role models for children. And just over half (53%) of respondents said off-the-field incidents had damaged their sport’s public image. The results by code are as follows:

Findings UNION AFL NRL SOCCER
I’d be happy taking children to games 95% 85% 85% 85%
Players are good role models for children 87% 71% 59% 76%
Off field incidents have damaged the image 55% 49% 68% 42%

Overall, about a quarter (26%) of adults said they always consume alcohol at games and 28% tend to leave early to avoid traffic. The vast majority (85%) believe their footy code is the most entertaining, but almost half (47%) said they prefer watching on TV. Almost a third (29%) would only pay to watch their favourite team.

Other findings UNION AFL NRL SOCCER
I always drink alcohol at lives games 53% 21% 30% 27%
I leave games early to avoid traffic 31% 26% 30% 25%
My code is the most entertaining 96% 88% 84% 75%
I’d only pay to watch my team 31% 30% 32% 22%
I prefer watching games on TV 55% 47% 51% 34%

Across all football codes, the 930 respondents to the survey had attended an average of 4.3 live games in the last 12 months, with 59% usually going with family and 41% with friends. The only exception was union, with 42% attending games with family and 53% with friends. A day out at the football was also more likely to be a family event for female fans of all codes.

Fans were asked what stops them from attending more lives games, with ticket price an issue for around half of respondents from every code. However, venue location was another significant reason, especially for followers of union.

Why don’t you attend more games? UNION AFL NRL SOCCER
Ticket prices 53% 52% 53% 48%
Games moved for TV scheduling 9% 19% 18% 10%
Atmosphere (not family friendly) 15% 14% 14% 7%
Venue location (travel distance) 51% 36% 38% 27%
Poor image of the game 9% 5% 7% 4%

Ticket prices also emerged as the most important issue that fans believe their football code must address, with many believing they will never be able to afford to watch a grand final. Image was also a cause of concern for fans of union and NRL in particular.

Most important issue to address UNION AFL NRL SOCCER
Ticket prices 42% 48% 40% 48%
Games moved for TV scheduling 5% 15% 10% 13%
Atmosphere (not family friendly) 9% 13% 12% 14%
Venue location (travel distance) 13% 6% 9% 5%
Poor image of the game 24% 9% 27% 10%

Across all football codes, almost half (47%) of survey respondents believe they will never be able to afford grand final tickets.

Grand final tickets UNION AFL NRL SOCCER
I’ll never be able to afford final tickets 49% 51% 46% 33%

Finally, fans were asked what they believe a reasonable price would be for tickets to regular season matches and their code’s grand final. On average, fans of union agreed the highest ticket price for regular games, while those who watch AFL wouldn’t mind splashing out the most for the showpiece occasion.

Fair ticket prices UNION AFL NRL SOCCER
Regular season match $35.02 $25.70 $24.13 $28.67
Grand final $59.96 $82.49 $55.13 $50.06

Our results suggest that fans are happy to support their club in the pocket by paying decent prices for regular season matches, but they are sensitive about being priced out of big occasions.

Ticket price is always going to be an issue for some, but what this survey has done is highlight fans’ desire for an overall, enjoyable match experience, with factors like a family-friendly atmosphere, safety and the image of the game contributing significantly to that.

Our findings featured in a special Channel 7 report, which you can watch below.