Soccer is now on par with the NHL, NBA and MLB

United States fans have made soccer a mainstream sport.
United States fans have made soccer a mainstream sport.

The number’s do not lie, soccer is now on an equal footing – no pun intended – with the NHL, NBA and MLB in this country and should now be considered a mainstream sport.

I am aware that many newspaper editors and sports talk shows hosts do not want to believe it but – deal with it people – soccer is here to stay and it is only going to grow.

Here are the numbers from the World Cup so far but they don’t tell all of the story.

The success of the United States Men’s Soccer Team has brought big time ratings for ESPN/ABC. The USA 2-2 draw with Portugal on Sunday June 22nd drew an audience of 24.7 million includes ratings from both ESPN (18.2 million viewers) and the Spanish-language Univision (6.5 million); it doesn’t include the 1.37 million people ESPN says streamed the game online.

Those ratings are better than the Stanley Cup Finals,  NBA Finals and much better than the 2013 World Series. Clearly, the USMNT at the World Cup is a big TV draw and there is a love for soccer that has been growing over the past two decades.

The countries love for soccer is supported by the recent reports that outside of host Brazil, far more World Cup tickets were bought by Americans than any other nationality. The attendance for the international friendly matches that pit the top team’s from the UEFA Champion League have drawn big crowds in cities all over the United States.

Now for part two of our story addressing those people who say that this is like the Olympics and that it is a once a four year deal and to an extent that is right. However, the English Premier League on NBC, the UEFA Champions League on FOX, and the USMNT on both FOX and ESPN ratings are growing at strong and solid pace.

The English Premier League and UEFA Champions League matches regularly out rate MLB broadcasts and they are nipping at the heels of the regular season game’s aired by the NHL and NBA. Even beating the NBA and NHL during some week’s during regular season.

Going inside the numbers boy’s and girl’s age 6-17 made up 4.6% of World Series audience on Fox. For the ABC coverage of the NBA finals it was 9.4%, NHL Stanley Cup Finals 9%, and then the winner’s are the Premier League soccer on NBC 11%

Watching a world class soccer match takes about two hours and then it is on to other things. Also, the games air on Saturday and Sunday morning, making English Premier League soccer easy to find programming for kids.

Simply put, what Saturday morning cartoons were to my generation, soccer is this generation. It is entertainment and branding. Building an audience from the ground up and it is paying off big time.

NBC’s presentation of the 2013-2014 Premier League season reached a total of 31.5 million viewers, including almost 5 million for their coverage of Championship Sunday.

For the first time ever all 380 matches were shown on live television, 196 matches shown on NBCUniversal networks and 184 were shown on Premier League Extra time TV packages and available via online live streams. NBC purchased the rights to the Premier League for three years and this past Sunday wrapped up their all-inclusive coverage of the intense and often-changing season.

The 31.5 million viewers on the season almost doubled the number from last season shown on ESPN, ESPN2 and FOX Sports who totaled 13.3 million viewers, according to The Nielsen Company. NBC’s coverage saw a 172% increase from last season’s broadcast of Championship Sunday on ESPN2, FX, FOX Soccer, Speed and Fuel, which only generated 1.8 million viewers. The average amount of viewers per channel on Sunday was about 1.8 million, nearly doubling the number 869,000 per channel from last season’s finals.

Listeners to  SiriusXM FC  channel 94 are keeping the lines lit at a all year round not just during the World Cup. The 24/7 all soccer channel is growing more popular by the week.

Meanwhile people from the United States are also buying soccer jersey’s at staggering rate.

Best-Selling World Cup Player Jerseys

1. Neymar

2. Robin Van Persie

3. Clint Dempsey

4. Lionel Messi

5. Cristiano Ronaldo

Best-Selling World Cup Team Jerseys

1. Brazil

2. U.S.

3. Netherlands

4. Italy

5. Mexico

Source: Fanatics

So by this not a fad or something that will happen only once every four years. The United States is a soccer nation and those in the media that do not understand the game or ignore the numbers will be left behind.