August 11, 2021

Max Simpson

SP Guest Insight: Breaking down soccer as a sponsorship opportunity in the USA

Using SponsorPulse data to analyze soccer as a viable sponsorship area for brands looking to connect through sport, Max Simpson breaks down some of the major soccer properties in the USA and discusses the momentum of the sport in the nation.

The state of soccer in the United States is often monikered as “brimming with potential”. Between the growth of domestic leagues and sustained interest in international competition, momentum in the sport is certainly on the rise...

Using the SponsorPulse platform and analyzing their Opportunity Scores of soccer properties in the USA, it stands to reason that all levels of soccer grow, or at the very least remain consistent, once the lens captures a more global view. That is, when the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) or US Women’s National Team (USWNT) are involved, interest is likely heightened and there is more of an appetite to engage with the sport and support the nation. As the USMNT is returning to proper form and the USWNT hasn’t been dropped lower than #2 in the FIFA World Rankings (having been firmly entrenched in the #1 spot since 2015), it’s likely that national momentum in soccer will continue to increase as these programs produce competitive teams and players. 

Also, noteworthy is the comparability amongst the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and Major League Soccer (MLS). Both properties are nearly identical amongst all key metrics with NWSL boasting higher Engagement (% of people who have engaged with the property in the past year), Passion (% of those engaged who are passionate about the property), and Consideration (% of those engaged who would consider purchasing from a sponsor of the property) levels compared to their male counterparts. We can see the burgeoning sponsorship success in both leagues played out in real time as the NWSL continues to forge “game-changing” partnerships with MLS, building a list of prominent advertising partners.

So, we see the snapshot of how both domestic and international soccer properties stand from an American lens. However, does the sport bear weight as a legitimate area of marketability when compared to other competing domestic sports? 

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SP Guest Insight: Breaking down soccer as a sponsorship opportunity in the USA

As we can see from the SponsorPulse data above, domestic soccer (NWSL and MLS) still has much room to grow as a viable sponsorship opportunity in the USA. With deep football, baseball, and basketball roots in the nation, the NFL, MLB, and NBA present the three strongest opportunities among major American sport leagues. 

As NWSL and MLS continue to grow into new American (and Canadian) markets and invest in foreign talent to enhance the quality of competition, we can expect these numbers to increase significantly over time.

To get a different assessment of soccer as a viable area of interest among American consumers, let’s take a look at one of - if not the most - prominent sports areas in the country...Los Angeles.

At first look, it may seem that the two soccer clubs (LA Galaxy and LAFC) sit far below the competition within the sports market food chain. Yet, upon further examination, there appears to be some key areas of opportunity that can be gleaned. Riding its status as a hot commodity since its inaugural season in 2018, LAFC records one of the highest levels of Intensity (% of people, among engaged, who engage with the property on a weekly basis) amongst all LA-based professional sport teams . This demonstrates the frequency of opportunities that brands have to intercept and add value as sponsors of the team, especially to consumers of this age group. LAFC records similar a Favorability (% of people, among engaged, who are more favorable of a brand that sponsors the property) measurement as the Lakers, Clippers, and Dodgers - three teams who have been salient among the city’s community for decades. 

LAFC’s numbers showcase that fans of new teams can still be loyal to the brands that sponsor their team, and that these partners can often have a direct impact on the fanbase. Truly a recipe for success in the realm of sponsorship marketing.

With key indicators showing that there’s potential for fandom and sponsor alignment, the sky truly is the limit for soccer in the states. The sport within the U.S. is consistently growing, and it’s exciting to see how brands will capitalize on the momentum of both national programs - especially with the 2022 FIFA World Cup just around the corner.

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