The "lucrative" sports audience should be attracted to a website through search engine optimization (SEO), JupiterResearch has advised.

According to the company, sports fans represent 19 per cent of total internet users and have a tendency to spend more time online than other browsers, meaning they represent an important opportunity for online marketers.

David Schatsky, president of JupiterResearch, explained that serious sports fans are heavily involved with online shopping – meaning they are more likely to buy tickets, merchandizing or pay for video streaming over the internet.

Figures released by comScore found that the video section on the National Hockey League’s website section attracted 12.4 million visits during April 2008, up 43 per cent on the previous year, according to JupiterResearch.

"To fully tap into this lucrative audience, local sites must make a commitment to search engine optimization and search engine marketing," added Bobby Tulsiani, analyst and primary author of the report.

Last week, Brand Republic reported that had launched a streamed video-on-demand service with 40,000 TV shows and films available to watch online.