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(ESPN)   MLS marketing tries to build national profile beyond Beckham tantrums by promoting potent rivalries and crazed supporters. Skeptic: "When your hottest team is in Portland, Oregon, it reinforces the perception you are a fringe sport"   (espn.go.com) divider line 125
    More: Obvious, David Beckham, Major League Soccer, Oregon, Seattle Sounders, u.s. soccer, NCAA Football, English Premier League, Major League Baseball  
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516 clicks; posted to Sports » on 25 Jul 2012 at 1:09 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-07-25 09:54:33 AM
Indeed, as the NBA is a fringe sport for having one of its top teams in Oklahoma City. The NHL, of course, is huge, because their hottest team is the LA Kings. Football was unpopular until the playoffs last year because the hottest team was in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
 
2012-07-25 10:06:17 AM
From a global perspective, every American sport is a "fringe" sport.
 
2012-07-25 10:18:15 AM
As a marketing professional, Handler worked quickly to square the gut emotion of these experiences with research and data. In March, a study by Luker On Trends/ESPN revealed the startling statistic that "pro soccer" trailed only the NFL as the most popular sport for Americans aged 12-24. Handler followed up with the pollsters and was relieved to learn "if you pull out MLS alone, it still ranks No. 4, ahead of Major League Baseball and NCAA football/basketball.

While the above should be a good sign for MLS in the U.S... hasn't that always been the case, although I guess it was always "kids loved to play soccer, but, then didn't become pro fans". This at least seems to show that now the kids are becoming consumer soccer fans as well. The trick will be if all these 15 year old MLS fans are still fans at 30. Then MLS will have "broken through".

But, only a person who wants to have blinders on would argue that the MLS has not grown dramatically since its inception. Whereas in the late 90s and even into the early 2000's, most would have grouped MLS with the WNBA and AFL as "Second Tier" pro leagues in the US, between improved TV contracts and coverage, almost all teams having their own 20-30k seating stadiums, only two teams being shut down in 15 years, and fairly healthy attendance in most markets, MLS is much closer to catching the NHL in the "Big 4" than being in the second tier.
 
2012-07-25 10:21:03 AM
Look, ESPN already settled this. The only sports teams that matter are in New York, and occasionally LA or Boston.
 
2012-07-25 10:50:13 AM

give me doughnuts: From a global perspective, every American sport is a "fringe" sport.


Actually, the NBA is wildly popular overseas.
 
2012-07-25 11:09:02 AM

give me doughnuts: From a global perspective, every American sport is a "fringe" sport.


Exactly. We should've conquered the entire world, enslaved their people, and forced them to play our sports centuries ago if we wanted to have the most popular sports in the world now.
 
2012-07-25 11:34:49 AM

IAmRight: Indeed, as the NBA is a fringe sport for having one of its top teams in Oklahoma City. The NHL, of course, is huge, because their hottest team is the LA Kings. Football was unpopular until the playoffs last year because the hottest team was in Green Bay, Wisconsin.


Excellence does not equal popularity
 
2012-07-25 12:15:58 PM
Tom Hanks was at the game last night here in Portland. We can't be *that* fringe.

i470.photobucket.com

It's not like we're talking about roller derby or competitive hide & seek.
 
2012-07-25 01:14:51 PM
If the NBA is the ideal for mainstream sports, then I'll be over here on the fronge with the MLS, being happy.

/fark the NBA
 
2012-07-25 01:17:38 PM

penthesilea:

It's not like we're talking about roller derby or competitive hide & seek.


I STILL can't find our local H&S team.

/maybe they're just that good
 
2012-07-25 01:17:55 PM
Portland is the hottest team in the league? Last place in the West, outscored 11-3 in their last 3 games, including giving up 5 goals twice, and on their 2nd head coach of the season. Yeah they sound pretty hot.
 
2012-07-25 01:22:44 PM

ArkAngel: Excellence does not equal popularity


I guess other people have weirder definitions of "hottest." To people that actually follow sports, it's based on being good on the field. Apparently to the guy quoted it's based on...not sure what exactly, since Seattle still has a bigger fanbase than Portland.
 
2012-07-25 01:23:14 PM

seumasokelly: Portland is the hottest team in the league? Last place in the West, outscored 11-3 in their last 3 games, including giving up 5 goals twice, and on their 2nd head coach of the season. Yeah they sound pretty hot.


Maybe they were good the previous season?

/Don't watch MLS
//Might someday
///Several years of recereational soccer as a kid
 
2012-07-25 01:24:01 PM

seumasokelly: Portland is the hottest team in the league? Last place in the West, outscored 11-3 in their last 3 games, including giving up 5 goals twice, and on their 2nd head coach of the season. Yeah they sound pretty hot.


These are marketing people, they are talking purely about 'popularity', not 'success'. See: Toronto Maple Leafs,

And the perception, at least, is that Portland is the poster child for a well-supported club.
 
2012-07-25 01:26:30 PM

chechcal: seumasokelly: Portland is the hottest team in the league? Last place in the West, outscored 11-3 in their last 3 games, including giving up 5 goals twice, and on their 2nd head coach of the season. Yeah they sound pretty hot.

These are marketing people, they are talking purely about 'popularity', not 'success'. See: Toronto Maple Leafs,

And the perception, at least, is that Portland is the poster child for a well-supported club.


Seattle is the biggest draw in the league.
 
2012-07-25 01:27:02 PM

dletter: MLS is much closer to catching the NHL in the "Big 4" than being in the second tier.


Truth be told the NHL is such a distant 4th, and really has always been, that it's not really a big 4.

The MLS is a fringe league and is awful to watch. And I watch a lot of soccer...and hockey.
 
2012-07-25 01:28:06 PM

AntonChigger: seumasokelly: Portland is the hottest team in the league? Last place in the West, outscored 11-3 in their last 3 games, including giving up 5 goals twice, and on their 2nd head coach of the season. Yeah they sound pretty hot.

Maybe they were good the previous season?

/Don't watch MLS
//Might someday
///Several years of recereational soccer as a kid


They were not. Finished 6th in the West and 12th overall, missing the playoffs last year. Doing even worse this season.
 
2012-07-25 01:28:45 PM

seumasokelly: Seattle is the biggest draw in the league


This. 2 1/2 years of consecutive sellouts. Over 50,000 to watch the Chelsea game.
 
2012-07-25 01:30:39 PM
Quakes got the best record!
 
2012-07-25 01:32:48 PM
Soccer is the perfect "sport" for all the hipster trash in Southeast Portland that don't follow actual sports.
 
2012-07-25 01:33:31 PM

KJUW89: seumasokelly: Seattle is the biggest draw in the league

This. 2 1/2 years of consecutive sellouts. Over 50,000 to watch the Chelsea game.


Including 64k for Kasey Keller's final regular season game. IIRC, the largest crowd ever for an MLS game.
 
2012-07-25 01:35:03 PM
We have realized the league is at a new life stage," he said. "For the past few years, we have been focused on building stadia and expanding into new markets. Now we are ready to build our own profile.

All well and good, but toppling the BPL and CL brands here in the states just seems damn near insurmountable.
 
2012-07-25 01:35:18 PM
...as long as this is a soccer thread...how about the comeback by the U.S. women?

Anyone? Anyone?
 
2012-07-25 01:38:49 PM

IlGreven: ...as long as this is a soccer thread...how about the comeback by the U.S. women?

Anyone? Anyone?


Not going to say that there wasn't some concern, but c'mon France? No way that lead was going to last 75 minutes.
 
2012-07-25 01:39:06 PM

IlGreven: ...as long as this is a soccer thread...how about the comeback by the U.S. women?

Anyone? Anyone?


USA! USA!
 
2012-07-25 01:39:35 PM

IlGreven: ...as long as this is a soccer thread...how about the comeback by the U.S. women?

Anyone? Anyone?


I've been watching. Great game so far, bad defending for the first two goals given up, but great resilience and strength for the comeback. Awesome game so far!
 
2012-07-25 01:42:16 PM

seumasokelly: IlGreven: ...as long as this is a soccer thread...how about the comeback by the U.S. women?

Anyone? Anyone?

Not going to say that there wasn't some concern, but c'mon France? No way that lead was going to last 75 minutes.


The US beat france in the semi-finals of last year's world cup.
 
2012-07-25 01:44:54 PM

Stimied in a Rut: seumasokelly: IlGreven: ...as long as this is a soccer thread...how about the comeback by the U.S. women?

Anyone? Anyone?

Not going to say that there wasn't some concern, but c'mon France? No way that lead was going to last 75 minutes.

The US beat france in the semi-finals of last year's world cup.


OK. France is still far behind the top 3 in women's soccer (USA, Japan, Germany).
 
2012-07-25 01:44:59 PM

dletter: As a marketing professional, Handler worked quickly to square the gut emotion of these experiences with research and data. In March, a study by Luker On Trends/ESPN revealed the startling statistic that "pro soccer" trailed only the NFL as the most popular sport for Americans aged 12-24. Handler followed up with the pollsters and was relieved to learn "if you pull out MLS alone, it still ranks No. 4, ahead of Major League Baseball and NCAA football/basketball.

While the above should be a good sign for MLS in the U.S... hasn't that always been the case, although I guess it was always "kids loved to play soccer, but, then didn't become pro fans". This at least seems to show that now the kids are becoming consumer soccer fans as well. The trick will be if all these 15 year old MLS fans are still fans at 30. Then MLS will have "broken through".

But, only a person who wants to have blinders on would argue that the MLS has not grown dramatically since its inception. Whereas in the late 90s and even into the early 2000's, most would have grouped MLS with the WNBA and AFL as "Second Tier" pro leagues in the US, between improved TV contracts and coverage, almost all teams having their own 20-30k seating stadiums, only two teams being shut down in 15 years, and fairly healthy attendance in most markets, MLS is much closer to catching the NHL in the "Big 4" than being in the second tier.



The MLS will never become popular in the US. Americans want action and they want scoring. 1 or 2 goals a game and 85 minutes of passing the ball around won't cut it. And for actual fans of soccer, the MLS is like the JV team....probably even lower...more like a junior high girls team.

I'd bet that most people couldn't name 5 players in the entire league (much less their home team).

With the other sports (baseball, basketball, hockey, Football), there are players who are well known by everyone. I don't even and to say team, sport or league...and everyone knows who I'm talking about...

Heck, I don't even have to give full names....Jeter, Brady, Chara, Rothlesburger, Manning, Crosby, Halladay, Rivera, Bryant, James, Revis, Welker, Moss, Wilson.
 
2012-07-25 01:45:18 PM

IlGreven: ...as long as this is a soccer thread...how about the comeback by the U.S. women?

Anyone? Anyone?


I was watching the start of that game and saw France's two goals. I turned it off to go to work and then our women started scoring.

You're welcome.
 
2012-07-25 01:45:59 PM
I've never been much of a soccer fan in the past, but I've found myself tuning in this year to MLS and I've really liked it. They've been around this long and survived, so there's definitely a market for what they're selling.
 
2012-07-25 01:46:16 PM

IAmRight: ArkAngel: Excellence does not equal popularity

I guess other people have weirder definitions of "hottest." To people that actually follow sports, it's based on being good on the field. Apparently to the guy quoted it's based on...not sure what exactly, since Seattle still has a bigger fanbase than Portland.


New York has a bigger fan base than either Dallas or Green Bay, but is behind both of them in jersey sales. Some teams just lend themselves more to nationwide fan bases
 
2012-07-25 01:48:50 PM
1. Offer your broadcasts to NBC, CBS, ABC, or FOX for network broadcast on their 'second tier' over-the-air HD channels -- for cheap. (here in ny - 4.2,4.3,2.2,7.2,7.3, etc)
2. Advertise them on the 'main' channels. (2.1,4.1,7.1)
3. PROFIT

/always looking for a footie game in the weekend afternoons at the pub.
//I am sure the pubs would be glad to bookend their 'premium arsenal/ Man U game with 'free' American Soccer.
 
2012-07-25 01:49:43 PM
I'm the only one at the pub screaming for each USA goal. Some snide farkers at the bar were making fun of me, but haters gonna hate. Love my ladies.

Dammit I have to go back to work
 
2012-07-25 01:51:52 PM

rubi_con_man: 1. Offer your broadcasts to NBC, CBS, ABC, or FOX for network broadcast on their 'second tier' over-the-air HD channels -- for cheap. (here in ny - 4.2,4.3,2.2,7.2,7.3, etc)
2. Advertise them on the 'main' channels. (2.1,4.1,7.1)
3. PROFIT

/always looking for a footie game in the weekend afternoons at the pub.
//I am sure the pubs would be glad to bookend their 'premium arsenal/ Man U game with 'free' American Soccer.


Don't know where in NY you are, but there's tons of footy pubs in the city. They show all matches.
 
2012-07-25 01:52:52 PM

seumasokelly: Portland is the hottest team in the league? Last place in the West, outscored 11-3 in their last 3 games, including giving up 5 goals twice, and on their 2nd head coach of the season. Yeah they sound pretty hot.


The Timbers blow this year, so I was thinking the same thing.
 
2012-07-25 01:53:09 PM

ArkAngel: New York has a bigger fan base than either Dallas or Green Bay, but is behind both of them in jersey sales. Some teams just lend themselves more to nationwide fan bases


So you're saying that saying a league is a fringe league because a team from a relatively small city is popular is a stupid statement, also known as exactly what I was saying?
 
2012-07-25 01:53:19 PM

ArkAngel: IAmRight: ArkAngel: Excellence does not equal popularity

I guess other people have weirder definitions of "hottest." To people that actually follow sports, it's based on being good on the field. Apparently to the guy quoted it's based on...not sure what exactly, since Seattle still has a bigger fanbase than Portland.

New York has a bigger fan base than either Dallas or Green Bay, but is behind both of them in jersey sales. Some teams just lend themselves more to nationwide fan bases


Those teams generally aren't terrible, though.
 
2012-07-25 01:53:59 PM
And by farkers I meant f*ckers, I don't think there are any Farkers here

END THE FILTER OCCUPATION DREW
 
2012-07-25 01:58:40 PM

KFBR392: dletter: As a marketing professional, Handler worked quickly to square the gut emotion of these experiences with research and data. In March, a study by Luker On Trends/ESPN revealed the startling statistic that "pro soccer" trailed only the NFL as the most popular sport for Americans aged 12-24. Handler followed up with the pollsters and was relieved to learn "if you pull out MLS alone, it still ranks No. 4, ahead of Major League Baseball and NCAA football/basketball.

While the above should be a good sign for MLS in the U.S... hasn't that always been the case, although I guess it was always "kids loved to play soccer, but, then didn't become pro fans". This at least seems to show that now the kids are becoming consumer soccer fans as well. The trick will be if all these 15 year old MLS fans are still fans at 30. Then MLS will have "broken through".

But, only a person who wants to have blinders on would argue that the MLS has not grown dramatically since its inception. Whereas in the late 90s and even into the early 2000's, most would have grouped MLS with the WNBA and AFL as "Second Tier" pro leagues in the US, between improved TV contracts and coverage, almost all teams having their own 20-30k seating stadiums, only two teams being shut down in 15 years, and fairly healthy attendance in most markets, MLS is much closer to catching the NHL in the "Big 4" than being in the second tier.


The MLS will never become popular in the US. Americans want action and they want scoring. 1 or 2 goals a game and 85 minutes of passing the ball around won't cut it. And for actual fans of soccer, the MLS is like the JV team....probably even lower...more like a junior high girls team.

I'd bet that most people couldn't name 5 players in the entire league (much less their home team).

With the other sports (baseball, basketball, hockey, Football), there are players who are well known by everyone. I don't even and to say team, sport or league...and everyone knows who I'm talking abo ...


The way the MLS has grown in the last few years, and the fact that it has been sustained growth leads me to believe that the league will continue to become more popular. As it does so, more money will be available to sign players, generating a more entertaining and competitive product. Soon enough the structure of the league will need to be changed to allow teams more autonomy to make signings themselves. Fanbases in Seattle, Portland, Toronto, Vancouver & Philly started out strong and growing fanbases is LA, the bay area, KC and Texas make a good case for continued growth. Local televisions deals as well as games of the week with ESPN and NBC don't hurt either.
 
2012-07-25 02:00:41 PM

TheKnownUniverse: I'm the only one at the pub screaming for each USA goal. Some snide farkers at the bar were making fun of me, but haters gonna hate. Love my ladies.

Dammit I have to go back to work


Come to Seattle. No one at The Atlantic Crossing would ever make fun of a soccer fan.

ts1.mm.bing.net
 
2012-07-25 02:01:54 PM

seumasokelly: KFBR392: dletter: The way the MLS has grown in the last few years, and the fact that it has been sustained growth leads me to believe that the league will continue to become more popular. As it does so, more money will be available to sign players, generating a more entertaining and competitive product. Soon enough the structure of the league will need to be changed to allow teams more autonomy to make signings themselves. Fanbases in Seattle, Portland, Toronto, Vancouver & Philly started out strong and growing fanbases is LA, the bay area, KC and Texas make a good case for continued growth. Local televisions deals as well as games of the week with ESPN and NBC don't hurt either.


Real Salt Lake got smart this year. All their games are being broadcast in HD on CW or ABC. I think their popularity is REALLY going up as a result. Still behind the Jazz and college football out here, but growing. Agree with everything you've said here.
 
2012-07-25 02:07:33 PM

ArkAngel: New York has a bigger fan base than either Dallas


Unless you mean NY has a bigger market, I'm going to disagree.
 
2012-07-25 02:13:26 PM
MugzyBrown: Truth be told the NHL is such a distant 4th, and really has always been, that it's not really a big 4.

It's a regional thing, isn't it? Having the really hardcore fanbases in the NE and upper Midwest is balanced out by.....YOUR STANLEY CUP CHAMPION LOS ANGELES KINGS!

Sorry, I'm still pumped. Of course, us old folks remember a time pre-Magic/Bird/Jordan when the NBA Finals were broadcast after the 11:00 pm news, so things can change. They won't, probably, but they can.

The MLS is a fringe league and is awful to watch. And I watch a lot of soccer...and hockey.

This. So much THIS. It's a league where players from "real" leagues go to earn a big paycheck when they can't get employed in Europe any more because OMG!! he played for Bayern Munich 15 years ago!!!!! It's like watching the sport at half speed. See also: the WNBA.

At least MLS partisans seem to have stopped with the lie of "All those kids playing AYSO = future fans" thing. That was always so embarrassing because most kids in AYSO were there because their parents wanted a few hours break from them, not because it was a feeder league for the MLS.

/Go Kings GO!
//Go Everton, Europe is the goal this year
///Oh, and finishing ahead of the Red Filth again
 
2012-07-25 02:17:54 PM

seumasokelly: TheKnownUniverse: I'm the only one at the pub screaming for each USA goal. Some snide farkers at the bar were making fun of me, but haters gonna hate. Love my ladies.

Dammit I have to go back to work

Come to Seattle. No one at The Atlantic Crossing would ever make fun of a soccer fan.


Ewwww Sounders fans :)

There are plenty of soccer bars here in DC, I just always go to the bar I used to work at. I get control of at least one TV. When I leave I used to put it on Animal Planet, but AP has gone the way of TLC and History Channel in straying from the original vision.

Also is this Brazil - Camaroon match live? I need to know if my Marta curses are working
 
2012-07-25 02:18:34 PM
I've been a Dynamo fan since Houston got a team, but what I really want to see are more consistent time slots for MLS games. NFL has pretty standard time slots for most games, MLB does as well. The Dynamo play on almost every day of the week this season. That doesn't help ratings.
 
2012-07-25 02:18:44 PM
What the guy meant by "Hottest" is that it has an expanding fanbase and is growing in popularity. Seattle and Portland have the best support in MLS. Both of them build national fanbases because people enjoy watching them play at home because the atmosphere is always great. Given the number of areas without an MLS team that have high interest in soccer, lots of people from there probably follow, at least marginally, one of those two over the New England Revolution whose atmosphere is turgid.

Still, the point of Portland being big is that the MLS has stopped catering so much to soccer moms and kids to focus on building building a strong base of supporters. Most of the new teams have great support compared to most US teams regardless of sport or league. The MLS is trying to transition from novelty to a serious sports league and has done a good job. Will it be as big as the NFL anytime soon? No, because it's about 80 years younger than pro football. MLS will continue to grow. Entering into enthusiastic markets like the Pacific Northwest will only help.

People biatching about how bad Portland should remember they're an expansion team.
 
2012-07-25 02:24:45 PM

IAmRight: Indeed, as the NBA is a fringe sport for having one of its top teams in Oklahoma City. The NHL, of course, is huge, because their hottest team is the LA Kings. Football was unpopular until the playoffs last year because the hottest team was in Green Bay, Wisconsin.


No shiat. They should do like the NFL and make sure that they have a team in all the largest media markets.
 
2012-07-25 02:26:17 PM

Rodrigo Hernandez: What the guy meant by "Hottest" is that it has an expanding fanbase and is growing in popularity. Seattle and Portland have the best support in MLS. Both of them build national fanbases because people enjoy watching them play at home because the atmosphere is always great. Given the number of areas without an MLS team that have high interest in soccer, lots of people from there probably follow, at least marginally, one of those two over the New England Revolution whose atmosphere is turgid.

Still, the point of Portland being big is that the MLS has stopped catering so much to soccer moms and kids to focus on building building a strong base of supporters. Most of the new teams have great support compared to most US teams regardless of sport or league. The MLS is trying to transition from novelty to a serious sports league and has done a good job. Will it be as big as the NFL anytime soon? No, because it's about 80 years younger than pro football. MLS will continue to grow. Entering into enthusiastic markets like the Pacific Northwest will only help.

People biatching about how bad Portland should remember they're an expansion team.


Sounders have made the playoffs in all 3 full seasons that they've existed and won a trophy each year.
 
2012-07-25 02:34:24 PM

Crewmannumber6: If the NBA is the ideal for mainstream sports, then I'll be over here on the fronge with the MLS, being happy.


David Stern wont be around forever and he is the only problem with the NBA, unless you just dislike basketball. I think the NFL is the ideal domestically, however.
 
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