RESEARCH JUST RELEASED: Provides first glimpse of fans attitudes post C-19 shut-off of sports and entertainment

COVID-19 is ratcheting up consumer anxiety about future events, but new data shows huge challenges ahead for the massive sports and entertainment industry.

>Release March 31 2020 3pm ET<
[Newport, Rhode Island USA]

As empty stadiums, canceled tours and postponements of Olympic proportions continue to make headlines, the ravaged multi billion sports and entertainment industry’s many stakeholders are left wondering about the future of their industry.

Performance Research, a global leading sports and event research, insights and consulting firm, released today (3/31) the first results of its Impact of COVID 19 on Live Events Study conducted with national online sampling partner Full Circle Research Co.

The study surveyed over 1,000 representative U.S. consumers from Full Circle’s research panel between March 23 and March 26 and includes findings on how consumer perceptions of the pandemic will impact engagement with live sports and entertainment events.

The new study reveals that there is little evidence of “pent up” fans flocking back to arenas and events at least initially after social distancing restrictions have loosened and events are cleared as safe to attend.

Jed Pearsall, founder of Performance Research noted, “The results of this new study, conducted in what may be the height of anxiety regarding the pandemic, show that event goers will come back, albeit with reservations and a limited sense of urgency. When considering all the barriers to event attendance, perhaps nothing can be more personal and emotional than health and safety.”

When respondents were asked if they will attend “Fewer”, “About The Same
Number” or “More” events once they are safe to attend, the highest percentage (44%) predicted they will attend fewer, while 38% reported their attendance won’t be impacted; the remaining 18% indicated they will attend more events.

Roughly half of all consumers indicated that that it would take them at least a few months, if not longer, to feel comfortable attending, even after they have been deemed safe.

Almost half ( indicated that the idea of attending a big public event….
“Will scare them for a long time. This presents the live gate and ancillary revenue based events with a substantial challenge.

Indoor events (such as music concerts, NBA and NHL Games) were more likely to cause trepidation, with 51% saying it would take them a few months or longer to return to indoor sports or concert venues, while 44% reported the same for outdoor venues. Similarly, 33% indicated they will likely attend indoor sports or concert venues less often post pandemic, while just 26% reported the same for outdoor venues.

Concerns over health and sanitation have drastically shifted regarding
attending live events since this pandemic.

Roughly two thirds of all Americans surveyed reported:
“Health safety will be a higher concern for them than it was in the past”
“They expect there to be wide scale changes in the way we attend major public events and venues in the future.”
“Have worries about cleanliness/sanitation of the venue overall, as well as the restrooms and food service areas”

These health and sanitation issues were much more likely to be of higher
concern in the future than other event safety issues such as violence or shootings, theft, drunk and rowdy crowds, or ticket scams, which remained
essentially unchanged.

Bill Doyle, vice president of Performance Research stated, “There will be some shift in attention from what is happening on the field or stage to what is seen with the venue itself. Expectations for new ways of protecting public health will be high, and this is a chance sports and entertainment properties as well as the sponsors who support them, to take a leadership role in setting new standards.”

While attendance may decline and anxieties around health safety will likely
increase post pandemic, consumers currently show high trust in event
stakeholders’ response to the pandemic.

Over 40% reported a “Somewhat” or “Very High” trust in organizers of pro sports, college sports, and the Olympic Games, and fewer than 20% indicated a “Low Trust” for any of these organizations.

As well, two thirds believe that the response to the Coronavirus from Pro Sports (66%), College Sports (68%) and Olympics (64%) has been “About right.”

The nationwide economic impact of major event cancellations and
postponements has been staggering, initially estimated at $6B and
(see our COVID 19 economic impact analysis study here) but
social distancing measures could strengthen consumers’ appreciation of events in the long run.

After an initial dec line, and once feeling confident, nearly half of consumers (46%) say they will value events more than they used to due to their experience with the pandemic, and 53% agreed that they will have a pent up desire to return to the events they loved but only once the pandemic has long passed.

Perception of corporate sponsorship of events remains strong, but with a new emphasis on “doing good”.

While 30% agreed with a statement that sponsors should “Conduct business as usual”, a majority (56%) reported they now expect more out of brands and corporations in terms of how “socially good” they are.

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About Performance Research: With more than 30 years of focus and experience, Performance Research is the industry leader for worldwide consumer research and evaluation in the event, sponsorship and experiential marketing industry.

Performance Research’s experience covers an array of quantitative, qualitative and economic impact studies focused on sports events and fan festivals, as well as in depth experience with activation testing at music and cultural festivals and pop up brand experiences.
Jed Pearsall:
Bill Doyle:

About Full Circle Research:
Twice named on Inc. 5000’s list of Fastest Growing Companies in America ( 2019), Full Circle Research was the first and only U.S. based, online consumer sample provider to earn ISO 26362 certification, is currently ISO 20252 certified and remains the only company to offer HoNoR (Holistic Next level Research™) a marriage of advanced technology and industry leading quality controls that gives business decision makers immediate access to the purest data in the industry
Nate Lynch: