Going Global: International Soccer on U.S. TV
Come the start of the 2013-2014 season for the Barclays Premier League, American fans of overseas soccer leagues will have more opportunities to watch international soccer on U.S. TV.
Beginning with the upcoming Premier League season, more will be shown on U.S. channels than ever before. In addition to a growing presence on ESPN, the BPL will begin broadcasting NBC Sports, and the UEFA Champions League will be shown on the soon-to-be-aired Fox Sports 1. While the popularity of international soccer on U.S. TV has been steadily increasing over the last few decades, the biggest spike seems to have occurred in the last few years.
The cause of this recent boom can be traced to the United States’ performance in the most recent FIFA World Cup in 2010. The U.S. team had garnered a lot of attention from a strong lead up to the tournament, which included a 2009 win over Spain, the top international squad, in the Confederations Cup. This, along with the World Cup’s perpetually immense popularity worldwide, lead to the largest viewership in U.S. history, topping the previous year event’s mark by 22 percent.
Because of these events, soccer has emerged as one of the more popular sports among young Americans. In fact, it has become the second-most popular sport among 12-24 year-olds in the United States.
Soccer’s spike in popularity can be linked to the overseas football scene. The same study showed that there are more fans of international football than fans of the MLS in the U.S.
Television networks in the U.S. have noticed soccer’s increasing popularity, and their growing interest shows, what with the vast spending that has begun for the broadcasting rights to more international soccer events. For example, the U.S. TV rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were sold to Fox and Telemundo for over $1 billion, more than double what ESPN and Univisión paid for the 2010 and 2014 rights.
This, along with the $250 million that NBC paid for a three year deal to air Barclays premier league games and Fox retaining the rights to air UEFA Champions League games on Fox Sports 1, prove that the push for international soccer on U.S. TV has gone far from unheard.
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