Watching Mathew McConaughey talking with Christian Pulisic and discussing his involvement with Austin FC in the MLS made me wonder if that was for fun or has soccer become kind of a hipster investment project.
Kevin Durant was seen recently talking with Philidalphia Union.
I’ve seen tons of investment groups talking about the ceiling that the NFL is near and the impossibility to get involved there or the NBA. The decline of the MLB and NHL are noted. Also funny enough I noticed how ESPN’s top level navigation had changed (dropping MLB and NHL took a nose dive) and they finally incorporated soccer into the main site a few years ago..
Is it a real investment opportunity or just a fun project for the wealthy?
- LeBron James is part owner (2%) of UCL Champions Liverpool in England.
- Steve Nash is majority owner of Spanish club Real Mallorca and has been featured for FIFA and been a commentator for soccer in Europe.
- Tony Robins and Will Ferrell are part of a huge group that own LAFC including Magic Johnson, Nomar Garciaparra, Mia Hamm, Allen Shapiro, Chad Hurley and Vincent Tan.
- Drew Carey shunned his Cleveland roots and is part owner of Seattle Sounders.
- Diplo & Didier Drogba are owner of UCL Club Phoenix Rising
- Carmelo Anthony is owner of Puerto Rico FC of the NASL
The list goes on. Could there be a day where we see NFL players sporting USMNT jerseys? That day has come and gone – JJ Watt, a Chelsea fan already and who is dating Chicago Red Star’s and USWNT soccer player Kealia Ohai
So how does soccer compare to other the big sports in viewership, attendance and valuation? Here’s a few numbers to chew on in some of the biggest sports teams in the US.
|NFC Wild Card||35,890,000|
|49ers vs Seahawks||23,300,000|
|OSU v Wash||16,780,000|
|MSU v Duke (8)||16,200,000|
|TT v MSU (4)||15,840,000|
|Oregon vs Michigan||1,830,000|
|Lakers vs Bucks||2,780,000|
|World Series Avg||14,000,000|
|All Star Game||8,140,000|
|Red Sox v Yankees||449,000|
|All Star Game||1,087,000|
|Flyers v Penguins||1,969,000|
|MLS & Club Soccer|
|Liga MX Morelia v America||1,800,000|
|Liga MX Necaxa v Monterrey||1,300,000|
|Liga MX America v Tigres||1,100,000|
|EPL Liverpool v City||1,135,000|
|EPL Leicester v Arsenal||779,000|
|Liga MX Avg||737,000|
|MLS LAFC v Galaxy||462,000|
|MLS Season Avg||268,000|
|World Cup ’19 Women Final||16,870,000|
|World Cup ’18 Men Final||11,800,000|
|US v England WC ’19 Women Semi||8,790,000|
|Gold Cup Final||8,540,000|
|Mexico v Canada GC Group||2,670,000|
|US vs Curacao GC Quarter||1,547,000|
|US vs Jamaica GC Semi||1,139,000|
|US vs Venezuela Friendly||1,037,000|
|US vs Canada Nations League||352,000|
|FIFA U17 Korea v Mexico||758,000|
Social Media Following
|Followers (mostly Twitter)|
|Cristiano Ronaldo (instagram)||158,910,000|
|Lionel Messi (instagram)||112,110,000|
|David Beckham (instagram)||54,890,000|
|LeBron James (instagram)||47,910,000|
|NCAA March Madness||1,400,000|
|NCAA F Michigan||111,459|
|NCAA F Penn St||105,678|
|NFL NY Jets||78,583|
|La Liga Barcelona||75,208|
|EPL Man U||74,879|
|La Liga Real Madrid||60,967|
|USMNT vs Mexico* single game||47,960|
|USMNT vs Venezuela* single game||23,955|
|USWNT ’18 Avg||14,064|
|MLB New York Yankees||$4.6B|
|La Liga Real Madrid||$4.24B|
|La Liga Barcelona||$4.02B|
|EPL Man U||$3.81B|
There is a lot to unpack from all of this data, but some clear signs that soccer belongs in the conversation.
The NFL is clearly in a league of their own for viewership and command the current American TV screen time. They have had bumps, but are back on track once again in 2019. The opportunities beyond that are there.
NBA has had some great movement of late, but are on a downward trend since the villainous Golden State has derailed and Zion Williamson’s injury slowed their new super hero’s rise. LeBron is aging and a changing of the guard is needed.
The value of investing in soccer in general is real, though at the highest levels what those teams are worth will continue to be a battle ground. Nearly every season there are rumors of clubs like Newcastle and others who might be for sale.
On the lower leagues, how far can they go? MLS is a young league their growth is well documented, though it’ll be interesting to see now that they are at capacity for growth in teams and will likely take a hit over the next few years in quality as they spread the top players out.
The value of investing in the US national team remains a mystery to me. It depends on how they value their organization and it’ll be critical we get to the 2022 World Cup. US Soccer had a ton of challenges in 2019 in the public eye with telling articles from NY Times, glass door reviews, a mass exodus of employees at the youth coaching levels and Wallstreet Journal’s coverage of their financial and lawsuit challenges will put a dark cloud of the organization itself. They didn’t make the 2018 World Cup losing to a small island nation who was eliminated. In their new leadership group they already have a loss to Canada to their name and were embarrassed at home by their rival Mexico 3-0 in a friendly after losing a Gold Cup final to them.
On the flip side the rise of Christian Pulisic and a tremendous youth movement might be enough to move the program forward. His success in the Premier League is unprecedented and with Matthew McConaughey taking the time to visit at Chelsea and JJ Watt being a fan it can only help the US men’s national program. The continuing rise of young Americans in Europe at the top ranks can only help the game get more popular and be more valuable as the next generation loves playing this sport.