Sunday, March 27, 2011

MLS on verge of replacing NHL among US big four sports

A second consecutive successful weekend by Major League Soccer at the gates and with television ratings sees the game continue to climb into the hearts of American sports fans.

Total Soccer Blog writes of how soccer is growing to the point where it might leap frog hockey among the US 'big four sports' of baseball, football, basketball and hockey.

Major League Soccer’s surge in gate attendance and television ratings last season put the league in a position to replace the NHL as the fourth most popular sports organization in North America.

According to the 2010 U.S Census, Americans are beginning to like the free-flowing, technique-oriented nature of soccer over the physical and fast-paced sport of hockey.

Reports indicated Major League Soccer achieved a spike in gate attendance and television ratings.

MLS experienced a four percent increase in average attendance (16, 675 fans per game), while the NHL had a three percent fall with an average attendance of 17,072 fans.

Seattle Sounders remain the biggest draw for Major League Soccer, recording an average attendance of 36,173 fans per game in 2010.

The Chicago Blackhawks, 2010 Stanley Cup champions, drew an average attendance of 21,353 fans – 84 spectators short of Los Angeles Galaxy’s average gate attendance (21,437).

In fact, 9 of 15 returning MLS clubs have achieved significant growth in their market as expansion continues for these franchises.

Meanwhile, 20 of the 30 NHL teams recorded lower attendance results in the 2009-2010 season than previous seasons.

MLS is also beginning to be an attractive commodity for cable subscribers, as the Galaxy-Sounders season-opener on ESPN posted 129 percent hike in ratings and 112 percent in viewership.

The match drew around 604,000 English-language viewers and 79,000 viewers Spanish-speaking audiences – up by about 84 percent.

Marketing executive Dallas Eduardo Carvacho believes MLS’ surge was greatly attributed to the growing population of Hispanics in the country.

“As the Hispanic community continues to grow and becomes the largest minority group in America, I believe we [at MLS] have the opportunity to leapfrog No. 4 U.S. sports league and are poised to become that No. 3,” Carvacho told Fox News Latino Thursday.

The United States’ emergence as a soccer power is another factor that helped MLS to be more appealing to American sports market.

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