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Special Report: TeenScreen: NBA Inside Stuff gets the inside edge on teen boys

Today's teen boys are 'a very hopeful bunch . . . [who are] very active and involved,' says Donna Sabino, director of strategic planning and research for Sports Illustrated For Kids and NBA Inside Stuff, citing the findings of a new...
April 1, 1998

Today’s teen boys are ‘a very hopeful bunch . . . [who are] very active and involved,’ says Donna Sabino, director of strategic planning and research for Sports Illustrated For Kids and NBA Inside Stuff, citing the findings of a new teen omnibus study for the magazines.

The Sports Illustrated For Kids Teen Omnibus provides a lifestyle picture of boys age 12 to 17, to be used by NBA Inside Stuff advertisers and editorial and sales staff (and to a lesser degree, by the younger-skewing Sports Illustrated For Kids). Initial findings released in December 1997 are from the first wave of the study. Much like its sister study, the Sports Illustrated For Kids Omnibus, a survey among kids age nine to 13 that is now in its 10th year, the Teen Omnibus will be conducted as an ongoing, quarterly study, with findings from two consecutive waves published semi-annually. Just like the Sports Illustrated For Kids Omnibus, this study also contains confidential proprietary questions for advertisers.

Sports Illustrated For Kids undertook the study to address a dearth of information on teen boys. ‘[Because of the Sports Illustrated For Kids Omnibus], we’ve been in the position in the [younger] kids market of always knowing [about this market],’ says Sabino. ‘We had questions about the teen market that we couldn’t answer because the information didn’t exist and that was driving us crazy.’

This first wave of the Teen Omnibus consisted of 25-minute, face-to-face interviews, conducted between November 7 and 17, 1997, with 233 boys in shopping malls across the U.S. ‘We sit the boys down and ask them a variety of questions-the basic ones that you would expect us to ask about sports and sports leagues and activities-but then also getting a bigger lifestyle picture of who they really are, about their favorite singers and television shows and their involvement with computers and brands and items that they own,’ says Sabino.

As expected, findings from the first wave indicate that participation in sports is essentially universal among teen boys (98 percent), with football and basketball tied for the sport played most. However, according to Sabino, the wide variety of sports that the boys participated in came as a bit of a surprise. ‘The popularity of the main sports-basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, baseball-those were all kind of the standard, but then you could [also] see them doing things like snowboarding, rollerblading, playing street hockey. . . . We even had seven percent of teens who said that they were rock climbers.’

Also of interest, almost nine out of 10 boys were aware of the Women’s National Basketball Association. ‘[Teenage boys] tend to be these really hard-core sports fans and they grew up in a different generation [than ours]. . . . To them, it’s not women’s sports. It’s just sports,’ says Sabino.

The study’s lifestyle section also provides some very current insight into Internet usage among teen boys. Ninety-six percent of boys had heard of the Internet, and of these boys, three-quarters (77 percent) had used it. In addition, 37 percent of boys claimed to use the Internet at a friend’s house. ‘That’s a pretty big number,’ says Sabino. ‘I don’t know if people are thinking about [the Internet] as potentially a group activity.’ In terms of favorite Web sites, Sabino says that teen boys’ off-line brand preferences are also reflected in their on-line usage: MTV and the National Basketball Association (NBA) sites emerged among the top three.

Given NBA Inside Stuff’s primarily male readership, the Teen Omnibus is currently limited to boys, but Sabino says that if there is a demand from advertisers and editorial staff, a girls sample could eventually be added. NBA Inside Stuff, now in its second year, is a custom-published magazine from Sports Illustrated For Kids in collaboration with the NBA.

In this report:
- SmartGirl Web site in the know about teenage girls
- NBA Inside Stuff gets the inside edge on teen boys
- AOL creates area for teens
- How AOL’s Teen Channel stacks up
- Teen horror movies slash their way to a comeback

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