US broadcasters, rights holders set to net reward of soccer fanbase | Media Analysis | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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With world football legend Lionel Messi's arrival at Inter Miami creating a massive surge of interest, affluent and passionate fans are ready to pay to watch their favourite sport with a particular propensity to pay for subscription VOD services says research from Ampere Analysis.
Ampere rights 15Aug2023
The study highlighted the growing popularity of soccer in America, with nearly 20% of US sports fans now claiming it is their favourite sport. This makes football the fourth most popular American sport, a figure that has grown rapidly from the last quarter of 2021. The US boasts a high proportion of avid female soccer fans (37%), compared with 31% among the big five Western European markets.

The Ampere study revealed opportunities for both traditional broadcast and digital. As regards the former domain, US soccer fans were 43% more likely than average sports fans to have a household income of more than $100,000, making this affluent audience a key target for broadcasters and rights holders. Almost three-quarters (73%) of US-based fans of the Premier League and UEFA Champions League say they will pay to watch the competitions.

Currently, interest in soccer competitions is dominated by global and European events. American fans most enjoy the FIFA World Cup (33%), the English Premier League (31%), and the UEFA Champions League (30%), with only 20% claiming to follow the MLS. In 2022, soccer broadcasting rights in the US were worth over $1.3bn – three times more than in 2015.

Ampere also noted that creating the right digital strategy will be vital to meet the viewing needs of American soccer fans. US soccer fans pay for more SVOD services than average and prefer to watch sports on streaming instead of broadcast TV. Early kick-off times for the top European leagues mean, they have high streaming engagement rates with highlights and player content on social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube where they already have strong consumption rates.

According to Ampere’s findings, nearly half of US soccer fans say they only want to watch the sport via an online streaming platform. More than half (54%) say they are most likely to view on a second home at home rather than the main TV set.

One key challenge to growth could be piracy. US soccer fans often cite price as their motivation for pirating sports channels. For soccer specifically, Ampere believes there is an opportunity to offer multi-league bundles to combat piracy and in general understanding the consumption habits of US soccer fans is crucial for the broadcasters who want to curate and build appealing content around this behaviour.

“There’s a really strong opportunity here to combine the best of traditional broadcast with the capabilities of streaming services and social media to meet the appetite of these passionate fans,” said Ampere research analyst Sam Nursall. “Ampere also believes that the challenges of piracy to avoid paying fees can be addressed through multi-league bundles to bring soccer fans all the content they can consume.”