The Rise of MLS Soccer in the USA


America used to be a Football country and used to look down on soccer. But things are changing and Soccer is slowly marching in to become a fan favourite.

Major League Soccer fever is finally catching on, and it is proving to be a great entertainer for the crowds.

 In this article, we will discuss how Soccer is catching big audience markets and what it means to the current sports market.

Three sports capture 90% of America’s attention- Football, basketball and baseball. There are several other sports but all the big bucks are on these three national pastimes.

A Gallup poll conducted in 2017 showed an interesting trend in the sports viewership numbers. Football was still getting the highest viewership at 37%. But the number has climbed down from 39% just four years ago. Basketball is at 11% down from 12% in 2014 and baseball is down to 9% from 12%.

 Another interesting fact is that while the older generation had a smaller increase in soccer viewership, the younger crowd was leaning towards the sport much more.

Interestingly, the same survey found Soccer numbers going up from 4% to 7%. It was the only sport to see such a massive rise in viewership. Are these figures telling us something?

Yes, they are.

But all the best time slots and ad rate cards still show the big three sports have a major domination in airtime and revenues. Meanwhile, it is hard to get any of the Major League Soccer games on TV and cable.

 Don’t be deceived by the ad rates and airtime as these are locked in for years at a time and they are not very good at catching the rising tide.

What makes the rise of MLS even more interesting is that 2017 was not a World cup year, and the US team got eliminated from the 2018 World cup.

Although the Television and streaming viewership numbers are quite scattered and most news stations and cable are still stuck to the big three, the crowd numbers at MLS games just reached 22,000 per game. While the expansion of the league is slow and many promising juniors are still opting to move to Europe to continue playing, there is still hope.

The biggest problem is getting enough people interested in the sport and to bring in some much-needed sponsorship.

 Since the world cup is scheduled for 2018, the hope is that watching the matches will get more people interested in the sport and thus bring in more audience to the games.

 If the talent pool improves, there is a chance the league can attract well-known players from across the ocean or down south. That is when things can get interesting. If a few big names come from either South America or Europe, the clubs could bring in more people to watch the stars. Even if the old school TV broadcasters are unavailable, the new digital moguls like Amazon would jump at such opportunities.