Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Advertising during Soccer Games Has Evolved

David Beckham before the first annual COPA Min...
You can find more soccer games and championships being shown on American television now more than ever. The game has never had the following is enjoys in Europe, South America, and the rest of the world.

The American public is much more interested as a whole in sports like baseball, basketball, and American football. Soccer remains a second rate sport in terms of popularity. As a result, it was rarely shown on major sport channels like ESPN. It also seems like American professional leagues and college teams are all but ignored, especially with dedicated internet access when life gets in the way of TV viewing.

Things are slowly starting to change as soccer becomes more relevant and interesting to American's today. It also helps that advertisers are starting to take note of the game. This has resulted in more air time across a variety of channels at prime time.

In a 1994 article in MIT's The Tech, columnist Michael K. Chung argues that soccer is not shown often in America due to its game structure. The whole game is split into two halves that are never stopped. Thus, there is no time for commercial break during game time. Halftime is the only period when this is possible. As a result, advertisers stayed away from the game. It is only now nearly twenty years later that things are changing.

Most games from Europe are played in the middle of the night. This allows broadcasters to play the big game later during prime time with commercial breaks. This has piqued the interest of major corporations that are eager to tap into a previously ignored fan base. If these companies can grab their attention, then they will be able to improve their margins thanks to legions of soccer fans watching commercials during PrimeTime air play.

Soccer still continues to be shown on 2nd level sport channels dedicated to the sport or only available on satellite through cable TV deals. However, it is a start. Teams like L.A. Galaxy were able to draw in commercial support when they brought in soccer legend David Beckham. Beckham's popularity and iconic status drew the attention of big sports companies who were eager to cash in America's sudden interest in the sport. Now that Beckham is gone once again, there will need to be another celebrity draw to the game. In lieu of actual commercials, companies are able to provide sponsorship and support teams who will display their logos on team jerseys and around the stadium. However, near-field advertising and team sponsorship can only go so far in the eyes of the advertisers.

It is unfortunate that the game does not have the coverage other sports enjoy. However, with the continued support of advertisement, then it will hopefully be aired more. Perhaps if the game was shown as much on TV than it would become as popular as it is elsewhere in the world. However, there still seems the needs for broadcast support which only appears when potential advertising revenue is present.


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