Soccer Poised to Increase Position as a Major U.S. Sport

Now that the excitement of the 2014 World Cup has faded, will U.S. fans continue to follow soccer? A Sports Business Daily poll shows growing support for soccer in this country and some analysts believe that promoters now understand how to market the sport to broaden appeal.

The Sports Business Daily poll shows that 18% of all consumers call MLS their favorite sport. In comparison, 23% call the NFL their favorite while only 9% say the same about MLB. But only 33% of soccer fans say this is their favorite sport. In general, these consumers say that the quality of play (47%) and inconsistent primetime TV scheduling (34%) are two reasons they are not bigger fans of MLS.

According to David Keyes, America Alzajerra, the history of soccer is one of failed attempts to break into the mainstream. The sports roll-​out in 1996 apparently targeted soccer moms, a strategy that did little to build the fan base. Today, more consumers are following MLS and EPL (English Premier League). Millennials have made soccer their second-​favorite sport, just behind football.  With over 3 million kids playing in youth soccer leagues, the sport is developing its next generation of fans. In addition, analysts point to the fervor of Latino immigrants for the sport. Combined, all these fans will ensure that soccer's popularity increases as support for other sports fades.

Just over 9% of consumers say they enjoy watching soccer events, either live or on TV. According to AudienceSCAN, these Soccer Fans skew male, 64.8%.  Not surprisingly, over 70% of the audience is under age 45. These consumers are also significantly more likely than average to enjoy tailgating. Marketers may be able to reach these consumers with TV ads as over 50% of this audience has taken action as a result of a TV ad they’ve seen in the past 30 days.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.