Sports Keep Men Online, Net Keeps Them Out of the Mall

Two companies with a lot invested in the online behavior of men — ESPN and Buy.com — have done surveys examining how men use the Internet for (what else?) sports information and shopping. Not surprisingly, the surveys say men use the Net plenty for both.

The ESPN.com survey, conducted by Copernicus, found that wired young men spend as much time online as they do watching television, and accessing sports information is the most popular reason young men use Internet, followed by music and product research. The study defined “wired young men” as as those 18 to 34 who access the Internet for personal reasons several times a month or more.

According to the study, 19.5 million men 18 to 34 now regularly turn to the Internet as a medium for personal use. “SportsCentered” young men (aptly named by ESPN), defined as those who use sports sites several times a month or more, represent approximately 11.7 million of this audience. SportsCentered men consumed even more media than the average wired young male, and exhibited striking patterns of Internet use and demographics compared to non-sports site visitors.

Among the study’s findings:

  • Of the 32.2 million US men age 18 to 34, 68 percent (nearly 22 million) have access to the Internet and more than 60 percent (19.5 million) use the Internet at least several times a month for personal reasons.
  • Men 18 to 34 who regularly access the Internet spend 32 percent of their total media consumption, or 12.2 hours per week, online, compared to 12.1 hours watching television, 9.9 hours listening to radio, 2.1 hours reading magazines, and 2.0 reading newspapers.
  • Sports is the No. 1 reason men 18 to 34 access the Internet (57 percent), outranking music (49 percent) and product research (47 percent).
  • 21 percent of men 18 to 34 begin their Web sessions with a visit to a sports site, compared to 12 percent of young men who log on to news and search sites to begin.
  • “SportsCentered” men are affluent, active, and more apt to purchase online; their household income is $64,000, and 78 percent have purchased products online in the past six months, averaging one purchase per month.
  • Although television was the preferred medium for sports, some 21 percent of “SportsCenteres” would choose sports sites if they were given only one medium to follow sports.

The study was conducted over three months and involved an online sample of 4,612 males. A separate telephone incidence survey was conducted among 1,445 respondents to size the audience and allow for total online audience projections of men 14 to 49 who regularly access the Internet, use the Internet for personal use, and visit sports Web sites.

Buy.com’s survey focused on (what else?) online shopping, and examined how men are using the Internet to get around their fabled fear of shopping at the mall.

The survey “How Guy’s Buy” found that men do indeed break out in a cold sweat when they hear the word “mall.” Actually, what it found was that going to the store conjures up visions of long lines in 43 percent of men, crowded parking lots (24 percent), and overly aggressive salespeople (14 percent). Faced with these options, nearly 70 percent of the men surveyed said they would be as or more likely to shop online for the upcoming holiday season.

Perhaps the Web appeals to men because, as the survey discovered, 40 percent are mission-oriented shoppers. That is, whether online or in the store, they want to get what they came for and leave. One-third are browsers who shop for the best deal, and 22 percent are game planners who make a list and plan in advance, looking for sites or stores with the best values.

Men are also procrastinators. Thirty-four percent start shopping for the holidays either one week in advance or the day before. More than one-quarter of men begin shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Most men do their own shopping. Only 10 percent ask someone to act as their surrogate shopper.

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