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Growth of Soccer in the US Will Soon Surpass Baseball

The growth of soccer in the US is growing at an exponential rate.

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By Jake Landau, Contributing Writer

Victory. Excited, happy family watch american football match, championship on the couch at home. Fans emotional cheering for favourite national team. Daughter, dad and grandpa. Sport, TV, having fun.

Growth of Soccer in the US

The growth of soccer in the US is increasing at an astounding rate. The world’s game is climbing the league table of popular US sports. It has overtaken ice hockey in fourth place and is honing in on baseball in third.

The Premier League struck a $2.76 billion dollar deal with NBC. This was after they battled among American broadcasters for television rights. This also reflects the growing popularity of the sport.

A study reveals that 49% of US Sports fans claim to enjoy watching soccer on TV, ahead of ice hockey at 37%. Additionally, the proportion of US fans who say they enjoy watching the English Premier League has grown from 12% to 15% between 2019 and 2021. It is not only what people say in polls that indicate soccer’s rise in the popularity stakes.

One of the reasons NBC is paying so much is because of the explosive growth of soccer in the US. When paired with the intensity at which fans follow their favorite teams and stars, this makes for big money. The big check written to the Premier League wasn’t just because of large numbers today, but because of the expected fanbase 3 to 5 years from now.

Anyone Can Play Soccer – You Just Need a Ball

Soccer’s rising popularity is due in part to its accessibility – you only need a ball to have a game – so much of the US population has at least tried it.

According to the US Sports and Industry Fitness Association, 17.8 million Americans played soccer indoors or outdoors last year. This demolished the number who played ice hockey -2.3 million and the 16.5 million that played American football.

Soccer, it turns out, is at the center of America’s digital revolution. Because of the audience, Soccer finds itself at the forefront of the streaming wars. Sport has an ability to attract viewers and subscribers that is unparalleled. NBC has grown the Premier League from a $60 million per year property a decade ago to a $150 million in 2015 to now $460 million per. That is a staggering increase for the league.

Will Soccer Overtake Baseball as the American Sport?

The quintessential American sport is still safe in third, but the gap is narrower than you would think.

More US sports fans prefer to watch baseball than soccer on television. And in the stadium too – Major League Baseball has a higher average attendance at 28,000 per game than the 21,000 for Major League Soccer. But broadcasters and marketers have their eyes firmly fixed on some interesting demographics.

The median age of Major League Baseball fans is 57. For American football, it is 50. For US supporters of the Premier League, it is only 43. A younger fanbase guarantees longevity for a sport. Almost one million youngsters now play soccer in High School. This means the pool of youthful soccer fans will be replenished. The growth of soccer in the US will continue to rise.

World Cup 2026 Coming to the USA

The World Cup will be a massive event and it comes at the pinnacle of the growth of soccer in America. An inflection point that could give soccer another huge boost. Americans love a show-stopping event. In 2019, the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, which saw the USA beat the Netherlands 2-0 attracted 14.3million US viewers. Conversely, 11.4million people in the States watched the 2018 men’s final. These were high numbers considering that the competition was held in Russia. The USMNT failed to qualify for this World Cup.

Jake Landau is a US Soccer Federation and UEFA C licensed coach. He is a writer and content creator. His newsletter (https://itscalledsoccer.substack.com/) and YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/ItsCalledSoccer) are dedicated to growing the beautiful game in the US.

It’s Called Soccer and focuses on USMNT, MLS, Champions League, and yanks abroad. With a coach’s perspective of tactical analysis, Jake has worked with El Salvador National Team manager Hugo Perez, The Guardian’s Tom Bogert, and multiple American youth players currently in European academies.

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