According to an article by MLSSoccer.com at the end of its most recent season, Major League Soccer had a new record for average attendance over the course of a season with approximately 19,147 in attendance per game, and nearly 2 million viewers watching the MLS Cup final.
Yet if you compared these numbers to other sports, according to Statista, the MLS, while ahead of the NBA (17,587 per game in 2013/14) and the NHL (17,407) in terms of attendance, is still way behind the NFL (68,397) and MLB (30,437). So the question still remains: Why isn’t soccer more popular in America?
While football and baseball have historically been the most profitable sports in America, soccer has been considered the most profitable and favored sport in a multitude of countries across the globe, including Brazil, England, Italy, and Spain. However, there have been many reasons to believe that soccer is finally gaining ground in America. According to ESPN, this past World Cup Final in 2014 was seen by an estimated 26.5 million Americans, significantly higher than aforementioned MLS Cup Final. In addition, the average TV viewership over all 64 tournament games of the World Cup was 4.56 million, which was almost quadruple the amount of the estimated 1.04 million viewers during the 2002 World Cup. This shows that Americans are willing to watch soccer, particularly international competition, yet when it comes to competition between American teams, attention is still hard to generate.
This blog aims to study the current direction of soccer in America, particularly with the MLS, and examine possible ways that soccer and the MLS could successfully be marketed to become America’s favorite sports league.