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Sports leagues use digital platforms to attract younger audiences

The major sports leagues have become "fluent in the jargon of digital media and say the digital platforms attract billions of views and likes," as their marketing officers "share a philosophy: Meet young fans where they are," according to Drape & Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. For the leagues, attracting young audiences is a "matter of survival." American society has "crossed a Rubicon that imperils the business of traditional sports." For the first time, children ages 12-17 place a "higher priority on being alone or spending time online rather than hanging out with friends or family." That is "scary to the leagues," which for generations have "relied on parents passing along their love of sports." Easy access to video games and social media has "taken a toll on participation in youth sports," while the pandemic "sapped the enthusiasm of young athletes even further." The pro leagues are now trying to "convert a passion for games into enthusiasm for traditional sports." The NFL works with about a "thousand pop culture and sports influencers who are football fans," including esports streamer Ninja. On TikTok, the league is "focused more on humor and on-field dialogue between players." The NFL also is "working with developers at Fortnite and Roblox." The NBA has "leaned into social media," producing "weekly game recaps on Twitch and YouTube." It also uses those platforms for NBA and WNBA players to "connect with the broader internet audience." MLB is "finding success with its YouTube channel" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/12).

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