The World Cup is among the two largest international sporting events, drawing players from every continent, and continuously inspiring new fans from the world over for almost a century. Yet, despite the widespread popularity of this long-time global phenomenon, American audiences have remained relatively uninterested compared to the enthusiastic world community.
On top of being generally less interested, audiences dropped by approximately a third when the US was eliminated from the World Cup 2014. Fox and Telemundo own the English and Spanish broadcast rights in the US, respectively, and both suffered heavy losses after the American elimination. However, Telemundo seemed to maintain a slightly higher retention rate while Mexico remained in the tournament.
With America being eliminated during the World Cup qualifiers in 2017, Frontier Bundles decided it would be the perfect time to conduct a study to learn more about American soccer audiences. In a survey of 1,000 Americans, Frontier Bundles asked two questions:
- Who do you think is the best soccer player in the world?
- What are your feelings about watching the World Cup?
While simplistic in its design, there was actually a lot of interesting information to be gleaned from this study. Here are a couple of the more interesting finds:
- Over a third of Americans have “no idea” who the best players are
- 27% of Americans have no intention of watching the World Cup.
This seems to confirm the notion that Americans are generally not as interested in soccer as other sports. This is especially apparent when noting that, on average, only 11.3 million Americans tuned in to the 2014 World Cup when the US team was playing. Whereas other sporting events, like the super bowl and NBA finals, regularly attract audiences exceeding 100 million.
On the other hand, the survey also revealed that nearly a third of Americans are “excited to watch” the World Cup. 22% are in the neutral / indifferent range: “I’ll watch it if it happens to be on”, which means over half of the population is sure to catch at least some of the World Cup, even though the U.S. team isn’t participating.
So, who was named the best player in this survey? Well, with 32% of the total votes, a significant majority of Americans believe the best player in the world to be none other than: “I have no idea”. Upon further inspection, it seems that “I have no idea” isn’t an actual player or, at least, he isn’t participating in the World Cup at the moment.
Fortunately though, following closely behind “I have no idea”, is the great Cristiano Ronaldo, favored at 22% over Lionel Messi who was able to secure 14% of the votes in this survey.
While soccer may not be as popular as other sports in the US right now, if there is any single characteristic that soccer fans from across the world all share, it’s fierce loyalty. And that loyalty is as much about the spirit of the game as it is to any particular club or team. So US participation may not be as wide-reaching as some would hope, but die hard US fans have enough heart to carry the rest of the country until team USA can stand among the football greats on the world’s stage.
For other interesting information and additional insights into American attitudes towards soccer during the 2018 World Cup Finals, check out the full study from Frontier Bundles.