Soccer (Fútbol for the purists) has seen a dramatic spike in popularity in the United States with the 2014 World Cup. There are two data points of interest regarding television viewership:
Last Sunday’s match between the Netherlands and Mexico became the most watched program in U.S. Spanish language television history with 10.4 million viewers.
That’s according to Media Life Magazine’s Toni Fitzgerald. No doubt the growing number of Spanish-speaking immigrants in the U.S. is an important factor. However, it isn’t just the immigrants and families of immigrants catching soccer fever.
The U.S. vs. Portugal match became the most watched telecast in ESPN history, other than American football.
It was also the most watched soccer broadcast by any station in U.S. history, peaking at 22,961,000 according to ESPN Media Zone.
In total, more Americans watched the U.S. and Portugal game than the NCAA title match, the NBA Finals, the World Series and the Stanley cup.
Based on these numbers, some see a potential for Major League Soccer (MLS) to grow in viewership. Viewership is under-performing at the moment, but who could have imagined a decade ago that MLS would average 88% stadium capacity today? The proof is in the pudding… or the money in this case. MLS recently secured contracts that quintupled the amount they are currently receiving from NBC for broadcasting rights. The league is expanding into new markets, hoping to go from the current 19 to 24 teams.
Some even hope an MLS team comes to Las Vegas soon!