Major League: Gay & Lesbian Internet Users are Avid Sports Fans.

More and more professional athletes are taking the courageous step to come out, publicly highlighting the connection between sports and the gay and lesbian community in important and unprecedented ways.

Gay and lesbian consumers—professional athletes or not—are also sports enthusiasts off the courts and fields. In many ways, they’re bigger aficionados than average fans. For instance, adult gay and lesbian Internet users are 11 percent more likely than the average adult online to attend pro sporting events, according to Nielsen, and 7 percent more likely to participate in an adult sports league.

Gay and lesbian adults are 51 percent more likely than the average adult to watch sports-related videos online and 28 percent more likely to boot up their computer to get their sports news. They’re also big fans of fantasy sports, as they’re 39 percent more likely to play fantasy sports online than the average adult Internet user.

An analysis of the top U.S. sports sites found a high concentration of adult gay and lesbian visitors during the first quarter of 2013, meaning these consumers represented a larger share of each site’s audience than their share of the overall online population. Among the top sports sites in the U.S., SB Nation had the highest concentration of gay and lesbian visitors. The site’s share of gay and lesbian visitors during Q1 2013 was more than double that of the online average. also showed a high proportion of gay and lesbian visitors, as the site’s gay and lesbian audience was 73 percent higher than the that of the overall online population. Bleacher Report and CBS Sports followed, over-indexing on gay and lesbian visitors by 69 and 65 percent, respectively.

Besides being sports and online-savvy, gay and lesbian consumers also wield tremendous buying power. Advertisers, retailers and publishers should recognize this value and seize the opportunity to engage this growing and influential audience.

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