Latinos are the fastest growing fan segment of the football market. That’s right football, not fútbol. Although there are plenty of soccer-centric U.S. Latino sports fans, American football is growing in popularity among Hispanic Millennials.
Similar to their parents and grandparents’ innate passion for soccer, this new generation of Latinos fans loves cheering for their home team and experiencing the excitement of the competition. The NFL provides Latinos with the ultimate sports experience they’re accustomed to: a game packed with action, incredible skills and amazing plays. Even the older generation is acclimating to the football scene.
During the regular season, Latino football fans spend nearly 15 hours engaged with the NFL each week. According to the NFLHispanic.com, last year’s Super Bowl was the ‘most watched’ TV program ever among Latinos, averaging ten million Latino viewers. With a rising number of young Hispanic NFL stars, such as the charismatic Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets, it’s no surprise that Hispanic Millennials love their American football. Sports columnists are likening Mark Sanchez’s rise in popularity to “Fernandomania,” the period in which Los Angeles Dodgers baseball player Fernando Valenzuela helped significantly grow the Hispanic fan base.
Historically, Latinos share a sports-fanatic attitude and are extremely loyal to their home teams witnessed during the World Cup soccer matches. Therefore it is no surprise that the NFL is fervently courting Latino sports enthusiasts for these traits. In 2012, the NFL ramped up its efforts to engage and acknowledge Latino fans for Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated annually from September 15 through October 15. Each NFL team saluted Hispanic culture and showed appreciation for its Latino fans during a home game.
High-profile Hispanics were invited by the NFL to help kickoff the month-long celebration of Hispanic culture and football fans during the Baltimore Ravens home game. U.S. Army Lieutenant General Rhett Hernandez performed the coin toss and Javier Colón, winner of the 2011 season of NBC’s The Voice, performed the national anthem.
To show their appreciation to Latino football fans, the NFL partners with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) for its NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Awards. Each award recipient is recognized in-stadium at a Hispanic Heritage game in their local market and given $3,000 to donate to an organization of their choice that serves the local Hispanic community.
As the celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month come to a close, the NFL continues stay digitally connected to its Latino fan base and shines a spotlight on the rising Latinos stars on the field. Advertisers and marketers in recent years have begun cultivating budgets and campaigns dedicated to reaching Hispanic Millennials who love football. Even though this segment of the Hispanic population continues to embrace their American roots and home teams, they still desire to stay connected to their Hispanic heritage. The NFL scores a touchdown with keeping its Latino fans engaged and appreciated. Advertisers only need to keep pace with the league.
Sources: NFLCommunications.com, NFLHispanic.com, Fox News Latinos