When Major League Soccer got underway in the US back in 1996, there was a lot of doubt that Americans wouldn’t care enough about soccer to watch it on TV or attend games. While the league has yet to reach popularity levels of the ‘big four,’ it seems that soccer may have finally hit its stride in America.
Nowadays, you can overhear sports fans discussing the roster of the US men’s national team as they prepare for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil, and catch plenty of matches on the big screens in sports bars across the nation. After all, Fox Sports shelled out $425 million just to broadcast the Cup next summer in the US alone, and this fall, NBC Sports began broadcasting English Premier League games to much fanfare.[more]
It turns out that the horn blowing was justified. According to Multichannel.com, the first five weeks saw 9.1 million viewers watch games, a 92 percent increase from those that watched in the same stretch last year on ESPN and Fox Soccer.[more]
Looking to boost viewership on its own network, Fox has now signed a deal with Germany’s top soccer league, the Bundesliga, to distribute its games around the globe. According to Variety, 21st Century Fox will take care of the Bundesliga’s distribution in North America, South America, and parts of Asia for five years as well as Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium for two years starting in 2015. Sky Deutschland, which 21st Century Fox owns more than half of, already holds the broadcast rights for the league in Germany.
“These agreements confirm that the Bundesliga has legitimately evolved to become a top international sports media property,” said Christian Seifert, CEO of Deutsche Fussball Liga (the operator of the Bundesliga), Variety reports. Of course, the ratings may say otherwise.