Professional sports are a lot more fun when you have a local team to root for, so it’s not surprising that the Seattle area is seeing a growing interest in hockey. Now that the Kraken have taken to 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 numbers show roughly 13% of people age 18 and older in our metro area — that’s around 400,000 people — are somewhat-to-very interested in the NHL. On top of that, there are more than half a million who say they’re a little interested in professional hockey. The Seattle metro area includes King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

These numbers are based on surveys conducted from 2020 to 2021, at which point Seattle had secured a pro hockey team and Climate Pledge Arena was under construction. Now that the Kraken are playing — their first home game was Oct. 23 — the level of interest has likely gone up even more.

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But who are Seattle’s pro hockey fans, and how do they compare with fans of the other sports represented by pro teams in our city?

To find out, I looked at various demographic data from Nielsen on 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, football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s basketball. However, Nielsen does not collect data on interest in the National Women’s Soccer League.

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The Nielsen data is based on surveys of more than 5,600 people in the Seattle metro area. Keep in mind that because people can be interested in more than one pro sports league, there is a certain amount of overlap in the data.

Turns out, fans of pro hockey in Seattle stand out in several ways from fans of other sports.

While men make up a larger share of fans for most professional sports, women are a fast-growing audience.

However, in the Seattle market, pro hockey lags behind the pack in this regard.

Hockey fans skew the most male of all the pro sports fandoms in our metro area. About 64% of Seattle-area adults with an interest in the NHL are men, according to the market-research data. Women’s pro basketball is at the other end of the spectrum — slightly more than half of the fans in the Seattle area are women.

Hockey fans in the Seattle area are also significantly 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. Fans of football, baseball and women’s basketball are all significantly older, with a median adult age of 50 or higher. (The median represents the midway point, meaning half are older and half are younger).

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Seattle’s hockey fans are also a well-educated group, with a higher level of formal education than fans of other pro sports in our metro. Forty-six percent of those with an interest in the NHL have completed a bachelor’s degree.

The lion’s share of fans of Seattle’s pro sports teams live in the suburbs. But hockey fans, along with MLS fans, are more likely to live in the city than other fans. For both, around 24% of the fan base has a Seattle address. Pro football fans are the most suburban, with just 18% living in the city.