The Beckham Effect: Putting the MLS on the American Sports Radar

David Beckam’s move to America and Major League Soccer has received both praise and criticism – and then some. It seems like you can’t turn on the tv without seeing Posh and Becks. Critics of soccer in the U.S. are quick to point out that even though there has been overwhelming exposure of one of the world’s most popular couples, only a portion of that has actually been related to soccer. Whether you think the huge contract that the LA Galaxy gave Beckham is worth it or not, there is no doubt that it has put the MLS on many non-soccer fan’s radars, for better or worse.

The move certainly had a lot to do with Beckham’s off-field popularity, but some of his on-field magic could really help the Galaxy, who are one of the worst teams in the league this year — although you wouldn’t know it by looking at traffic to their website.

  • Unique visitors to the Galaxy site were up an average of 103% for the first three months of the season — before Beckham ever touched the field.
  • With number 23′s debut in July, visitors to the site were more than 400% what they were during the same month last season.
  • Over 20,000 unique visitors went to the Beckham-dedicated page on the MLS site in June alone, nearly as many for one player as the Galaxy team page had in June last year.

Traffic to MLSnet.com (can you name another professional sports league whose site url is not the name of their league?) skyrocketed in July as well, although the numbers have not been so consistently positive this season as they have been for the Galaxy.

Although I’m sure Paulo Wanchope and Cuauhtemoc Blanco joining the league raised some interest, it seems that Beckham’s debut in July and the announcement of his signing in the winter drastically spiked traffic – but unique visitors actually dipped in June this year compared to last. So does this mean that the excitement of having the world’s most popular player in the league will wear off like it did after the news of his signing? My guess is no, especially if he is making pin-point crosses into the box and bending in free kicks, but we’ll be sure to look at the traffic again to see just how strong the Becks effect is.

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