America is about to welcome arguably the most well-known athletic superstar in the world. The 31 year old former England captain, David Beckham, recently signed a five year contract with LA Galaxy worth $250M. His current contract with Real Madrid expires on June 30th, but Beckham is not expected to join LA Galaxy before August. We explored to what extent Bechkam’s presence will increase soccer interest in the U.S..
The volume of unique visitors to Major League Soccer’s website has been growing slowly since 2001. However, these numbers significantly lag behind the respective interest in America’s major sports. On a relative basis, MLS is to baseball as Carrot Top is to Sacha Cohen — not nearly as popular.
Will Beckham make the difference? Can Beckham’s marketing potential take the MLS from the basement to the dinner table of the major sports market in the U.S.?
The winter months are the off-season for the MLS and are annually the low point in traffic to its official site; yet once the breaking news was released on January 12th, traffic to mlsnet.com increased by 200%. More striking was the jump in traffic to the Galaxy’s team page – 2000%.
It should come as no surprise that people jumped online to find the details of the Beckham deal. Beckham is considered an idol to thousands of soccer fans, not to mention millions of adoring girls. The impact of having such an extraordinary player with so much star power should have a great effect on the LA Galaxy and the MLS.
Will Americans’ soccer interest ever reach that of MLB, NBA or NFL? Hmmmm, can we afford twenty more Beckhams? Is Pele’ available?
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