If the U.S. Soccer team’s first match against England was watched by a historic high of 17 million people, the following game, against Slovenia, was the most watched soccer game in the history of ESPN, with almost 4 million U.S. viewers, and of course, interest did not drop off for the U.S.’ decisive match against Algeria. During this last game of the group round, ESPN saw a 60% increase in viewership over the 2006 World Cup in Germany (due in large part to the U.S.’ terrible showing that year).
For advertisers, the aforementioned data are without a doubt a great opportunity to promote and advertise their products. But what now remains to be seen is whether these viewership stats will lead brands and advertisers in the U.S. to continue or begin to invest in soccer once the World Cup is over. Until now, soccer has been little more than a means of reaching the Hispanic consumer.
On previous occasions when the U.S. Soccer team has competed internationally, interest from fans and advertisers fell immediately after the tournament was over. The key seems to be that soccer here in the U.S.- known elsewhere as “football”- is in many cases still seen as typical entertainment from another part of the world, and therefore, something foreign. What is clear is that, in light of the U.S. team’s likely participation in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the success to this point may lead to a big change in ad investment in this sport. This is not bad news, although it only comes around every four years.