The Holiday season: the best time for sports?

Source: Pragma Magazine

It’s December 26th, you’re relaxing at home, doing your best to digest last night’s Christmas feast. You’re in the mood for something entertaining, and as a sports lover, you turn on the TV, because you know something is on, something like the British Boxing Day tradition of a full day of Premier League games, starting from noon. What is Boxing Day? A quick answer from BBC: “Boxing Day got its name when Queen Victoria was on the throne in the 1800s and has nothing to do with the sport of boxing. The name comes from a time when the rich used to box up gifts to give to the poor. Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants, and the day when they received a special Christmas box from their masters.” But it doesn’t really matter how it got its name, because one thing is for certain, it’s good for the entertainment business.

The Serie A case 

Source: Getty Images

Italian football and Serie A are anchored in traditions, one of them being to hold their football championship during Christmas break. But this year, we were on the edge of a revolution: Serie A would play on Boxing Day! This was a huge bet, considering that Italy is well known for giving importance to their “holy days”. An important note to add: 26th of December is a bank holiday in Italy called Santo Stefano, which adds another layer to breaking the traditions. 

The result? A success, but there is still room for progress. Stadiums weren’t full, but attendance was higher than during the regular season games, with a peak of five million TV spectators, reportedly 10% to 15% higher than other regular season game days. It’s still not Premier League success, but this could be interesting to follow in years to come.

Not only football

Source: Getty Images

The United States has been banking off holiday entertainment for a while. Here is a list of all the things you can see:

Martin Luther King's Day: NBA regular season games on a non-stop 12 hours streak 
Mother's Day: MLB regular season;
Father's Day: the U.S. Open men's golf tournament, MLB regular season;
Independence Day: afternoon baseball, a hot dog eating contest (believe me, it’s a big one!);
Halloween: a potential World Series game, NBA, NHL regular season games, maybe American football;
Thanksgiving: NFL regular season games, a random college American football and basketball game;
Christmas: NBA basketball;
New Year's Eve: massively important American football games at the university level, valid as playoff games for the National Championship.

Most of them are ancient traditions – college football on New Year’s Eve has been running for almost 100 years!

On another part of the globe, Boxing Day also showcases one of the most prestigious yachting races in the world: the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Every year the start horn sounds at 1 pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time.

Source: Rolex

Australia is also the starting point for the annual tennis season, which kicks off during the second week of January with the Australian Open. Ahead of this first Grand Slam® event are two preparatory competitions: the Hopman Cup, an international mixed-team tennis event organized by the ITF in Perth, and the Brisbane International, part of the ATP World Tour 250 series. These two events are held during the first week of the year, and even as early as late December, which still counts as the holiday season.

Why is it working?

Source: Getty Images

Many factors contribute to this success. A holiday sports game playing on the big screen at home is a great way to start conversation during traditional family gatherings. Holidays are often spent with family, and there will almost always be someone in the group eager to turn on the TV and see how the Dallas Cowboys or the Los Angeles Lakers are doing. Stadium wise, it is a great opportunity for fans to gather, because the day after Christmas is a day few people work, which means more time to enjoy.

From a TV network point of view, the end-of-year is the perfect occasion to schedule sports, especially to escape the same Christmas movies that seem to play over and over again – forgive me but seeing Love Actually for the millionth time is difficult for even the toughest among us!  Instead, TV networks propose exclusive and live content during the holidays, which is priceless for both sports fans, who can watch live games during this season, and TV networks that generate revenue through advertising.

In conclusion, sporting events during the holidays are a great way to enjoy live entertainment while spending time with our loved ones. Finding the right balance is delicate for sports fans and casual viewers alike. An advice? Don’t focus too much on it, enjoy your family, but keep an eye on the score – it might just be the match of the year!

A The Consultancy Group article, written by Alessandro Di Benedetto 

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