You're reading Sounder at Heart so you're almost certainly already a soccer fan, but think back a bit to 2008. How many followed soccer then? Did you follow it locally? It only took one year (the 2009 season) for the Sounders to build half of the current season ticket base that they have today. Did you follow soccer; or was that ticket purchase support of a product you wanted to see work?
Take it to 2010 and guess what? The demographic studies and surveys show that Seattle Sounders FC captured fans of global soccer. That trend is continuing. It's a mirror for what is going on with the game throughout the United States according to Sports Business Daily's report today.
"Watching the Sounders the first year caused a bunch to buy the second year," Trail said. "And these people were totally different in their behaviors. They followed the game internationally. But they didn't see the product of the Sounders being of sufficient quality to follow the first year. After seeing it a little bit, and seeing the crowd, they became interested sufficiently to buy season tickets. They're the ones who follow the EPL and are in the soccer bars. Now they follow the Sounders as well."
Soccer's ratings are booming, though divided between three main leagues (Liga MX, EPL, MLS) that when combined draw in range of the NHL. There's a diverse, and young audience for soccer (except for Liga MX, that's older).
The story from Sports Business Daily has a lot of data, interviews with marketing experts and college professors. That "the next big thing" may actually be upon us.
"Soccer has had a number of false starts here," says Bill Sutton founding director of the sport and entertainment management graduate program at South Florida in the SBD/J story. "They were thinking people were ready for it and they weren't quite ready. They're more ready for it now than I've ever seen."
Viewership for the World Cup is going to be huge this year. It's only trending up and Brazil is in a very friendly for US TV viewing time zone. Major League Soccer is poised to get some of the follow-on eyeballs after the event. Spain, Brazil, the USA, Costa Rica, Australia, and Honduras all have MLSers on the roster. It's right here.
There's a reason to think that the future is bright. Then again the NASL probably thought the same thing back in 1982.