Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Slightly OT: Soccer is scoring big

Obviously there are some marketing connections that I can create, but the fact is that I'm a soccer fan, and it's great to point out that there are some very clear signs in the past several weeks that, even pre-Beckham, soccer is starting to make some very big inroads in the sports (and therefore media and marketing) scene.

At the end of June, the final match of the Gold Cup tournament (USA-Mexico) on Univision drew an audience 40% larger than hockey's Stanley Cup final had drawn a few weeks previous on NBC.
The United States' 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Mexico on Sunday received a 2.5 fast national rating on Univision, the network said Tuesday. That translates to 2.83 million households, nearly double the 1.48 million homes that watched the 2005 Gold Cup final between the United States and Panama.


Anaheim's series-ending 6-2 victory over Ottawa in the Stanley Cup on June 6 received a 1.8 rating on NBC, which comes to 2,005,000 households.
This despite the fact that the match was also shown (in English) on the Fox Soccer Channel, where there were probably almost as many viewers (I wasn't one of them, since I was at the game).

Clearly, soccer has displaced hockey for the #4 spot among American team sports (assisted by what seems a death wish on the part of the NHL).

To show it was no fluke, a week later the USA-Argentina match in the Copa America drew an audience big enough to make Telefutura #1 in New York in key demographics:
Think of it as Telefutura's David Beckham moment. Last Thursday night, Telefutura's New York stations, WFUT Channel 68 and WFTY Channel 67, were No. 1 in prime time in the key male demos -- 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 -- a first since the network's debut in January 2002.
It wasn't even close -- Telefutura beat the network stations by wide margins (alas, it wasn't close on the field either -- Argentina pounded us). And, again, the match was available in English on pay cable.

And this is, as noted, pre-Beckham. He'll presumably help spike things a bit more -- he's already attracting attention with Adidas's clever Futbol vs. Football spots where he co-stars with Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints.
In an unscripted series of spots to appear online and on broadcast TV, the athletes compare notes on their two sports. In "NFL Goalie," Bush attempts to tackle a new position—much to the amusement of the soccer icon. Beckham gives him some tips, such as, "The goalkeeper can actually move around." Kick after kick, Bush fails to stop Beckham from scoring. He cracks, "If I get at least one, I think I'll be successful."
Actually, the best line comes when Bush is trying to teach Beckham to throw a pass. After several tries Bush asks, "Are you sure you're right-handed?"

To finish with an actual marketing spin -- if your company isn't on the soccer bandwagon yet, you'd better jump on quick.

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