European soccer leagues that have taken the plunge into digital licensing are far more popular among 18-24 years old and have seen less of a drop in interest in the sport among this demographic than other leagues and competitions. At a global level, 18-24 year olds under-index for interest in most sports, including soccer. In Q1 2019, 23% of those 18-24 year olds surveyed across 20 markets worldwide expressed an interest in soccer, versus 27% of the wider respondent base. This also translates into the age bracket’s interest in European soccer leagues and competitions. Of ten leagues and soccer competitions surveyed, all but two show a lower interest among this age group. Spain's La Liga and French Ligue 1 both over-index for interest among the younger demographic while the English Premier League and Italy's Serie A both show broadly equal interest among 18-24 year olds and older age groups. For La Liga and the English Premier League 18-24 year olds are also more likely to be willing to pay for access than the average consumer.
Digital licensing deals seem to play a part. La Liga, Serie A and the Premier League have signed deals for digital distribution with DAZN in multiple markets, La Liga has Facebook as a partner in India, and Amazon has purchased a Premier League package in the UK. All of these partners offer the content at a much lower price than traditional pay TV and allow streaming access, making the competitions more accessible to an increasingly mobile and cash-strapped generation. As the struggle for younger audiences’ attention continues access beyond broadcast will become a more prominent part of distribution strategy, and other soccer leagues and competitions should be considering how best to make the most of these new, lower-cost distribution channels.