Anime Is More Popular Than The NFL, The Numbers Prove It

By Nina Phillips | Published

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While the NFL and other sports leagues aren’t going away anytime soon, a recent anime survey by Polygon and a sports survey by YPulse showed that Japanese animated shows are the clear winner between the two industries.

The Survey

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Polygon released information about an anime survey they conducted focusing on anime habits among 4,275 people. While the information they collected is interesting all on its own, it’s when you compare Polygon’s survey by YPulse on NFL habits among younger generations that the data starts to reveal some intriguing results

The comparison is quite astounding, especially when you look at Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012). It reveals a lot about changing trends.

Based on those who completed the anime survey, anime is something all generations like, though the younger generations enjoy it the most. Roughly three percent of boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) say they watch anime weekly. This is a pretty low number compared to 12 percent of Gen X (those born between 1965 and 1980), 25 percent of Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996), and 42 percent of Gen Z.

NFL Doesn’t Share Anime’s Growth

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While the percentage of anime fans increases every generation, the NFL isn’t having as much luck. While 44 percent of Millennials watch football, only 25 percent of Gen Z pay the sport any attention.

Gender, Race, And Other Factors

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It’s no surprise that while there are female fans of football, it’s mainly a male-dominated field. Roughly 49 percent of men between 13 and 39 watch football, while only 29 percent of females of the same age group enjoy the sport.

The anime survey didn’t focus on gender, but it did show that a diverse group of people watch anime. The survey was only conducted in America, but it was found that 17 percent of the anime audience are Black Americans, while 10 percent are Asian Americans. Additionally, roughly 27 percent of followers are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

How Fans Watch Anime

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It’s also worth talking about how these groups get access to their favorite shows. Though most fans of the NFL, about 52 percent, watch games on live TV, there are still plenty of followers who rely on streaming channels or social media for information about games.

Meanwhile, the people who watch anime, according to the anime survey, rely almost entirely on streaming services. Netflix (76 percent), Crunchyroll (58 percent), Amazon Prime (35 percent), and Hulu (55 percent) are the most popular, and Max comes up close behind.

Funimation, used to be popular, before Crunchyroll took over and shut down the streaming platform. Additionally, Tubi is a good option for those who don’t want to pay for streaming services and don’t mind watching a few ads.


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A study on the fan overlap for these two seemingly different fanbases could be an interesting continuation of the surveys. After all, with so many sports anime out there, it’s likely that there are fans who enjoy both.

In fact, most sports players are now part of the Millenial and Gen Z age group, which means that it’s likely they enjoy some anime as well, as could be seen from Members of the Detroit Lions showing off their love of Naruto, or Los Angeles Chargers using One Piece references in their promo.

Why Anime?

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But what is there to like about anime? The anime survey also had answers to that. A huge portion of those surveyed, about 75 percent, said that it was a form of escape from daily life, roughly 66 percent said that their favorite shows provided comfort and strength, while almost 50 percent said it helped them feel pumped up.

Additionally, 65 percent of anime viewers say that these animated shows are more emotionally compelling than other types of media.

Sources: Polygon, YPulse