Professional Soccer has been “the next big thing” in the U.S. for several decades now, but it seems as though it is finally beginning to make significant headway into mainstream America.
The driving force behind this movement is the availability of ample content now surrounding the sport. While Americans used to have only a handful of games available to them each week on television, they are now spoiled for choice.
After its $250 million dollar purchase of the English Premier League TV rights, NBC not only made every game available for cable subscribers – via live television or the NBC Sports mobile app – the network also built out quality supplemental programming to enhance the viewer’s experience and deepen their knowledge of the game.
ESPN will do the same in terms of its coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, as every game will air on live television as well as online and the WatchESPN mobile app. Because of this commitment, these broadcasters have generated a plethora of new soccer fans and strengthened current fans’ connection to the sport.
Four years ago, 112 million Americans, or 37% of all U.S. TV viewers, tuned in to watch the 2010 World Cup – a 26% increase from the 2006 tournament. The increased interest in the game, along with other factors such as smaller time zone differences between the U.S. and the host country (Brazil), ensures an even larger American viewing audience for the World Cup this time around.
This will excite the six first-tier FIFA Partners who, according to Analytic Partners, paid an estimated $730 million combined for the rights in 2014, as well the eight second-tier FIFA World Cup Sponsors, who spent an estimated $500 million combined for the rights to the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
While these brands will certainly receive the bulk of advertising time during the tournament, it by no means guarantees them the majority of the buzz. Oreo’s 22-character “Dunk in the Dark” tweet that included a simple, yet smart image during the 2013 Super Bowl is universally considered the most effective marketing moment of the event, outshining all of the 30-second spots, which, according to Kantar, cost advertisers an estimated $4 million a pop. In addition to its overwhelmingly well-rounded praise by media experts, a GroupM Next survey shows that 31% of those who saw Oreo’s tweet retweeted, liked or commented on the post via social media.
These statistics show the power of capitalizing on real-time opportunities and how the World Cup, in addition to being the “next big thing” in America, will be the next big real-time opportunity for brands. A sliding goal by Clint Dempsey, currently the USA’s best player, could prompt a tweet from a company selling stain removing products. A long, weaving run by Lionel Messi, the first soccer player to be one of the top 10 most popular athletes in America, could be shared through a Facebook post from an automotive company likening it to a vehicle’s superior handling. With a massive audience on social media following every kick of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, it’s up to brands to find clever, creative ways to capture their attention in real time.
Real-time opportunities will be vital for non-sponsors who want to make a big splash at the World Cup, yet they will not be the only chances to capitalize for these brands. Recognizing the global opportunity this tournament creates, Facebook will offer advertisers a segment comprised of users who have expressed interest in the World Cup – the first time the world’s largest social network has built an audience segment specifically for a televised event. The new segment will update daily to include people who had not previously shown any visible interest in soccer, but start to post updates or links amidst the excitement of the World Cup.
Between the opportunistic nature of real-time marketing and the more prepared nature of Facebook’s new World Cup segment, companies will be able to develop a diverse social media plan for the World Cup. However, there is a big difference between the ability to do something and actually doing it. Any brand serious about taking advantage of 2014’s biggest marketing play will need to think in real-time and think social.
More World Cup and soccer facts and figures can be found here.