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Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Soccer in America: Incl Impact on COVID-19 market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

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What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This report explores consumer interest in and engagement with the world’s most popular sport – soccer. In the US, soccer sits behind football, basketball, baseball, and hockey in popularity, and Major League Soccer is by far the youngest of the main US professional sports leagues. The Report also explore the current state of soccer, how leagues and teams are handling the pause in play due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and what will shape the future of the sport once play resumes – such as the return approach from leagues around the world, incorporating technology, sports betting, and managing the fandom of a sport with numerous popular professional leagues worldwide.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Colin O’Brien, a leading analyst in the Leisure sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Soccer is a growing sport in the US with fans following various leagues and competitions around the globe. The stoppage in play due to COVID-19 has put a major halt on the momentum of the sport and created uncertainties around when the sport will return. As a result, leagues, teams, and players have been forced to adjust in how they engage with fans Colin O’Brien
Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Key issues covered in this Report
        • Definition
        • Executive Summary

            • US Soccer Market Overview
              • No money, more problems
                • Impact of COVID-19 on soccer in America
                  • Figure 1: Short, medium and longer term impact of COVID-19 on Soccer, April 2020
                • Key takeaways
                  • The growing popularity of soccer in the US
                    • Figure 2: MLS average regular season attendance, 2015-19
                    • Figure 3: NWSL average regular season attendance, 2016-19
                  • Soccer connects with Hispanic and younger consumers
                    • Figure 4: Soccer league interest, by race and Hispanic origin, January 2020
                    • Figure 5: Soccer league interest, by generation, January 2020
                  • The USWNT is the top American soccer team, on and off the pitch
                    • Figure 6: USWNT support due to social causes, by generation, January 2020
                  • Kit sponsorships provide incredible value
                    • The soccer halo effect
                      • What it means
                      • Impact of COVID-19 on soccer in America

                        • What you need to know
                          • Figure 7: Short, medium and longer term impact of COVID-19 on Soccer, April 2020
                        • Opportunities and Threats
                          • Short-term impact of COVID-19 is financially catastrophic for soccer
                            • Postponements and cancelations create ripple effect for future scheduling
                              • Keep fans engaged during the immediate drought
                                • Figure 8: Engaging with fans amid COVID-19
                              • Soccer fans may seek experiences elsewhere
                                • While attendance may be low, soccer will shine on the global stage
                                  • Impact on the US soccer market
                                    • No money, more problems
                                      • Could soccer’s return to play be near?
                                        • Baseball provides hope for a return to the pitch
                                          • Figure 9: Eleven Sports Taiwan Pro-Baseball Live Stream, April 2020
                                          • Figure 10: Interest passion level, by soccer league, January 2020
                                        • Soccer goes all-in on social media
                                          • Figure 11: Real Madrid’s Madridista Nation Facebook Group, April 2020
                                        • The next generation soccer viewing experience
                                          • Figure 12: Bundesliga and AWS Partnership Announcement, January 2020
                                        • How the crisis will affect soccer’s key consumer segments
                                          • Growing the game with the youth and younger consumers
                                            • Maintaining momentum with the growing female fanbase
                                              • How a COVID-19 recession will reshape the US soccer industry
                                                • Unemployment could lead to ticketing promotions and new service offerings
                                                  • Figure 13: Unemployment, March 2000-March 2020
                                                • Sponsorships will come back for the win
                                                  • COVID-19: US Context
                                                  • US Soccer Market

                                                    • Soccer fandom in America spans across countries and leagues
                                                      • TV contracts and ratings
                                                        • MLS attendance
                                                          • Figure 14: MLS average regular season attendance, 2015-19
                                                          • Figure 15: NWSL average regular season attendance, 2016-19
                                                        • Soccer and social media
                                                          • Figure 16: 2019 most tweeted about teams and athletes
                                                          • Figure 17: 2019 social media presence for MLS compared to other four major US sports
                                                        • Getting grounded in soccer
                                                          • Marketing through soccer
                                                            • Figure 18: Soccer halo effect, by generation, January 2020
                                                          • The draw of the World Cup
                                                            • Quality differences between US and abroad
                                                            • Kit Sponsorships

                                                              • Kit sponsorships provide incredible value
                                                                • Figure 19: Kit sponsorships affinity, by generation, January 2020
                                                              • Creative uses of kit sponsorships
                                                                • Figure 20: Visit Rwanda Arsenal sleeve sponsorship
                                                                • Figure 21: Austin FC custom Yeti merchandise
                                                            • Key Indicators Impacting Soccer

                                                              • USWNT makes an impact on and off the field
                                                                • What’s happening
                                                                  • What’s ahead
                                                                    • Figure 22: USWNT support due to social causes, by generation, January 2020
                                                                    • Figure 23: BODYARMOR Megan Rapinoe ad
                                                                    • Figure 24: USWNT equal pay protest shirt
                                                                    • Figure 25: Secret donation in support of equal pay
                                                                  • MLS expansion isn’t slowing down
                                                                    • What’s happening
                                                                      • What’s ahead
                                                                        • Soccer’s new streaming options
                                                                          • What’s happening
                                                                            • What’s ahead
                                                                              • NBC looks to expand EPL fan engagement
                                                                                • What’s happening
                                                                                  • Figure 26: NBC Premier League Fan Fests
                                                                                • What’s ahead
                                                                                  • Clubs leverage video and social platforms to compete for consumers’ attention
                                                                                    • What’s happening
                                                                                      • What’s ahead
                                                                                        • New technology enables custom curation for fans
                                                                                          • What’s happening
                                                                                            • What’s ahead
                                                                                              • New sports betting opportunities for MLS
                                                                                                • What’s happening
                                                                                                  • Figure 27: DC United sports betting sleeve sponsor
                                                                                                • What’s ahead
                                                                                                  • Figure 28: MLS SVP of Media promotes player tracking for prop bets
                                                                                              • Exploring Soccer Fans

                                                                                                • US-based soccer leads fandom, but European football leads in passion
                                                                                                  • Figure 29: Interest in soccer by league/competition among soccer fans, January 2020
                                                                                                  • Figure 30: Interest passion level, by soccer league, January 2020
                                                                                                • Closing the gender fandom gap
                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Soccer league followed, by gender, January 2020
                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Budweiser NWSL new sponsors campaign
                                                                                                • Connecting with multicultural consumers
                                                                                                  • Figure 33: TUDN soccer emphasis
                                                                                                  • Figure 34: Soccer league interest by race/Hispanic origin, January 2020
                                                                                                • Interest in soccer is increasing
                                                                                                  • Figure 35: Change in soccer interest by fandom, January 2020
                                                                                                • Following soccer trends younger, and it’s on the rise
                                                                                                  • Figure 36: Soccer league interest, by generation, January 2020
                                                                                                  • Figure 37: Change in soccer interest, by generation, January 2020
                                                                                              • Barriers for Soccer

                                                                                                • Excitement is nil for soccer’s critics
                                                                                                    • Figure 38: Barriers to soccer fans, by generation, January 2020
                                                                                                    • Figure 39: Interest of non-fans, by generation, January 2020
                                                                                                    • Figure 40: EPL highlight videos
                                                                                                • Increase Soccer Interest and Attendance

                                                                                                  • Soccer is a communal sport
                                                                                                    • Figure 41: Beer promotions from MLS teams
                                                                                                    • Figure 42: eSports promotions from MLS teams
                                                                                                  • Creating lasting experiences for fans
                                                                                                    • Figure 43: Brands improving matchday experience
                                                                                                    • Figure 44: European inspiration for in-game atmosphere in MLS
                                                                                                  • A chance to see the popular teams
                                                                                                    • Figure 45: Methods to increase soccer attendance, by generation, January 2020
                                                                                                • Following the Action on the Pitch

                                                                                                  • Many methods to follow soccer
                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Methods to follow soccer, by generation, January 2020
                                                                                                  • A timeline of goals
                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Live updates via social media
                                                                                                  • Ill-timed kickoffs
                                                                                                    • Figure 48: Brand opportunities around match times
                                                                                                  • Not enough focus from media
                                                                                                  • Making Players More Personable

                                                                                                    • Teams take advantage of their exclusive content
                                                                                                      • Figure 49: Interest in exclusive soccer content, by generation, January 2020
                                                                                                      • Figure 50: Atlanta United exclusive content
                                                                                                    • Getting to know players beyond the pitch
                                                                                                      • Figure 51: Interest in exclusive soccer content, by generation, January 2020
                                                                                                      • Figure 52: EPL teams highlighting players’ personalities with brand tie-ins
                                                                                                  • Sports Betting

                                                                                                      • Figure 53: Interest in betting on soccer, by generation, January 2020
                                                                                                      • Figure 54: Sports betting links in team posts
                                                                                                  • Brand Integrations in Soccer

                                                                                                      • Figure 55: Audi “GOOOOAL” pitch-side ad
                                                                                                      • Figure 56: Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year sponsorship
                                                                                                      • Figure 57: Captain Morgan captain sweepstakes
                                                                                                      • Figure 58: Custom brewery jersey cans
                                                                                                  • Growing the Game

                                                                                                    • Goals for fans
                                                                                                      • Not so many stars in stripes
                                                                                                        • Figure 59: Methods to increase soccer interest, by generation, January 2020
                                                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                      • Data sources
                                                                                                        • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                          • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                                            • Top soccer leagues and competitions
                                                                                                              • Club soccer leagues
                                                                                                                • Club soccer competitions
                                                                                                                  • International soccer competitions
                                                                                                                    • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                        • Terms
                                                                                                                          • Qualitative research responses

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