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World Cup Soccer – Are You Following Along? [POLL]

Paul Marotta Getty Images Entertainment
Paul Marotta Getty Images Entertainment

I’ve said it before and was told I’m crazy – but what else is new?

Soccer will overtake a couple of major sports in the USA and will become among the top 3 – along with the NFL and the NBA inside of the next decade.

Perhaps all you need do is look at the crowds at sports bars across the state.
Packed with soccer fans, but not just any soccer fans.

I’m talking about young soccer fans – the kind networks crave. Millenials, GenXers, the 18 to 34 crowd that network executives love to court.

Not to mention immigrants from all over the world that have made Jersey home.

My brother was telling me that one of our cousins who had been here for a number of years but was originally from our ancestral town of Nola, Italy, rushed him off the phone to catch the second half of whatever game was on this past Saturday.

Here’s more reason to believe in soccer’s potential to overtake other American sports:

According to the NY Times:

Everything aligned for Major League Soccer to make deals with ESPN, Fox and Univision worth a combined $90 million annually from 2015 to 2022.

First, the market for sports rights has been exploding, often with billion-dollar contracts for extended periods of time. With one deal, M.L.S. has become a microcosm of that moneyed craziness, even if its new contracts are minuscule compared with NBC Universal’s deal last week to acquire the broadcast rights to the six Olympics from 2022 to 2032 for $7.75 billion.

Second, Fox owns the rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and covets further soccer programming, and its nine-month-old Fox Sports 1 network needs to fill its schedule.

Third, ESPN and Fox recognize that the next decade for M.L.S. might be brighter than its present with the addition of numerous soccer-only stadiums; its plans to add teams in New York City, Atlanta, Orlando and Miami; and league expansion that has already brought notable successes in Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Toronto.

“It’s a futures deal,” John Skipper, the president of ESPN, said Monday at a news conference announcing the deals with representatives of the networks, M.L.S. and U.S. Soccer. “We’re buying pork bellies. We think they’ll become more valuable over time.”

The hope within networks that lock up rights to a league or college conference for 8, 10, 15 or 20 years is that viewership will rise, or at least remain steady.

That is certainly the operating principle behind the billions that ESPN, CBS, Fox and NBC spend to carry the N.F.L., the most reliable ratings producer in American sports television.

Fox, ESPN and Univision executives believe that heavily promoting M.L.S. will bring more attention to the league and hopefully mint new viewers.

At $90 million a year starting next season, M.L.S. will be receiving more than the estimated $85 million annually that NBC is paying for a three-year deal with the Premier League.

The next round of bidding could be wild, especially if Fox or ESPN view the Premier League as a must-have property that fits into their schedules, and NBC decides to overbid to keep it.

Money, money, money, the mean green talks!

And if there’s that much money behind the broadcast rights to the games – just like there is with football, and had been with baseball – soccer is here for the long haul.

Are you drawn into the World Cup Soccer Tournament?

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