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As the NFL season kicks off, millions of Americans will be glued to their television screens (or whatever screens their watching on), happy to finally see the return of their favorite sport.

According to Statista Consumer Insights, American football – or just football depending on where you live – is still the clear number 1 sport in the United States. 77 percent of U.S. adults who generally follow sports said they follow football, putting it far ahead of basketball, followed by 59 percent of respondents, and baseball at 50 percent.

But, as Statista’s Felix Richter reports, while football has been America’s true favorite pastime for decades (sorry baseball), that doesn’t necessarily mean things will stay that way forever.

In fact, there are some signs that football’s reign could eventually come to an end, as the sport has struggled to resonate with younger fans in the same way that the NBA has.

As the following chart shows, football has already lost its lead to basketball among 18- to 24-year-olds, while retaining a dominant lead in older age groups.

You will find more infographics at Statista

With game times of around three hours that aren’t exactly action-packed, NFL games just aren’t ideally suited for younger consumers who are no longer used to pay attention to anything for that long.

The NBA has been quicker to embrace the change in sports consumption, catering to an audience that is more likely to watch highlight clips on social media than sitting through entire games on ESPN. The fact that basketball is also easier to pick up and play casually adds to the sport’s popularity among young fans, not to mention the appeal of superstars such as LeBron James, who are deeply ingrained in popular culture.

Whether this trend will continue long enough for basketball to kick football off its throne remains to be seen, but for now basketball is winning the battle for young audiences.

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