Who are Seattle’s NHL fans and how do they compare to other fandoms?
Professional sports are a lot more fun when you have a local team to support, so it’s no surprise that the Seattle area is seeing a growing interest in hockey. Now that the Krakens are on the ice, data from market research giant Nielsen shows the number of Seattle-area adults expressing interest in the NHL has jumped more than 40% since 2017.
The latest figures show that approximately 13% of people aged 18 and over in our metropolitan area – or approximately 400,000 people – are somewhat or very interested in the NHL. On top of that, there are over half a million who say they are somewhat interested in professional hockey. The Seattle metropolitan area includes King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
These numbers are based on surveys conducted from 2020 to 2021, when Seattle had secured a professional hockey team and Climate Pledge Arena was under construction. Now that the Kraken are playing – their first home game was on October 23 – the level of interest has likely increased even more.
But who are Seattle’s professional hockey fans and how do they compare to fans of the other sports represented by our city’s professional teams?
To find out, I looked at various Nielsen demographics of adults who said they were somewhat to very interested in different professional sports. I only looked at leagues that have a Seattle team – in addition to hockey, these include baseball, soccer, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, and women’s basketball. However, Nielsen does not collect interest data for the National Women’s Soccer League.
Nielsen’s data is based on surveys of more than 5,600 people in the Seattle metropolitan area. Keep in mind that because people may be interested in more than one professional sports league, there is some overlap in the data.
It turns out that Seattle pro hockey fans differ in several ways from fans of other sports.
While men make up a larger share of fans in most professional sports, women are a rapidly growing audience.
However, in the Seattle market, professional hockey lags the pack in this regard.
Hockey fans are the most masculine of all professional sports fans in our metro area. According to market research data, approximately 64% of Seattle-area adults interested in the NHL are male. Women’s professional basketball is on the other end of the spectrum – just over half of Seattle-area fans are women.
Seattle-area hockey fans are also much younger than fans of other professional sports, with a median adult age of 43. That’s three years younger than MLS fans, who are the second youngest. Football, baseball and women’s basketball fans are all much older, with a median adult age of 50 or older. (The median represents the midpoint, which means that half is older and the other half is younger).
Seattle hockey fans are also a well-educated group, with a higher level of formal education than fans of other professional sports in our metro. Forty-six percent of those interested in the NHL have earned a bachelor’s degree.
The lion’s share of fans of Seattle’s professional sports teams live in the suburbs. But hockey fans, as well as MLS fans, are more likely to live in the city than other fans. For both, about 24% of the fan base has a Seattle address. Professional football fans are the most suburban, with only 18% living in cities.