By Lindenberg Junior | Translation: Anthony Mendiola
After a very successful Word Cup 2010 in South Africa and the resulting record audiences, the major American media outlets promised to invest more resources in the most popular sport in the world. To get an idea of Soccer’s growing popularity in the USA, during a week of the World Cup 2010 coverage, the ratings was similar with the NBA playoffs. The fact opened the eyes of the media, marketing and advertising industries.
The Latin TV network Univsion who together with ABC and ESPN own the rights to broadcast the World Cup in the USA in 2010, broke records for audience like never before and surpassed the ratings of the other big American media outlets like CBS and NBC. Finally we see that soccer, which has the power to generate billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of fans throughout the world, might finally gain more prime coverage on American television.
News Corporation and Walt Disney Company are making big bets on the growing popularity of the major European football leagues in the United States, thanks to worldwide stars like English player David Beckham English and French player Thierry Henry in 2010, and several other soccer stars through the following years like Brazilian player Kaka in 2015 and Mexican player Giovanni Dos Santos in 2016. The companies are charging large sums of money to affiliates and distributors eager to attract the male audience between 18 and 49 years of age that is highly coveted by advertisers.
During the semifinals of the World Cup 2010, the senior vice president of programming and acquisitions for ESPN, Mr. Scott Guglielmino said in an interview: “We believe the public in the United States are becoming more diversified and we have seen a substantial rise in audience of our soccer games”. At Disney, whose subsidiaries ABC and ESPN did retain the American rights to live coverage of World Cup 2010 and also World Cup 2014 (in Brazil), the plan is to definitely strengthen involvement with soccer in the U.S. Its important to note that Major League Soccer (MLS) is already carried by some networks such as ESPN, albeit in a more tepid way when compared to how the first class leagues like the English, Italian, Germany, Brazilian and Spanish cover the sport.
The TV audience that follows MLS is still smaller than the European Leagues, but from this World Cup 2010 it become bigger and bigger and the prognostic is that the Major League Soccer (MLS in U.S) become one of the top three soccer leagues in the world. Although soccer is among the favorite sports of American children, this preference often changes in favor of baseball, basketball or American football when these same children grow up. But a change is expected with this behavior. The immense interest demonstrated for the South African 2010 and Brazil 2014 by an increasingly multicultural U.S, combined with the commercial interests of large companies that would like to expose their brands through the American media to this growing audience, leads us to believe that the long awaited rise of “FUTEBOL” in the U.S. has finally arrived!