The English Premier League has been actively and aggressively attempting to market its brand to the US, first with Fox Soccer, later with ESPN and most recently with network TV. This coming season (which kicks off in 10 days) even has a prime time show following the fans and players of Liverpool FC.
As a fan of (and former season ticket holder for) Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, I can now see more games live each season on TV from New York than I could if I was in England. As a fringe member of the NYSpurs fan club, I have seen both Fox Soccer and THFC reach out to US fans, seeing what can be done to attract viewers.
One of the key things appears to be to pull in people by getting them to pick a team, and to do so they have created highlight clips, spotlighting past history as well as current stars and events.
The following 3-minute clip was shown on big screens before the recent pre-season Spurs friendlies in Baltimore and New York. (Not sure about LA.)
The first time I saw it, it left me with tears streaming down my face.
I'm curious to know what people with no affiliation, no investment in the team (or even the sport) make of it.
This clip includes my *all time* favorite goal. Can you guess which one? Hint - it is over 2 decades old . . .
While I adore the World Cup and the Euro Cup tournaments, regular league soccer play holds absolutely zero interest for me.
I still enjoy watching major league sports around the playoffs, but I find it really hard to get emotionally invested in it.
And I think this is the point. If the league could get you interested in the fortune of a single team - ideally a team with a long and storied history - all of a sudden you are invested in the League.
Pretty much all of the European teams have long storied histories. I think the bigger hurdle is a) access - most people aren't going to go looking for access to FSC and those who do (me) may get frustrated by lack of access to FSC + et. al. (wondering what is going on with Bein sports/gol etc., etc.) - in other words access to world foot ball is spotty and weird in the US
b) getting over the general snarky attitude many have of football - "a girl's game" "too much diving" "NFL is better" "soccer is boring"
How are you going to correct b without a? THAT to me is the problem. I caught something or another the other day, I believe it was on NBC sports stations watching MLS - that the younger demo is more soccer savvy so hopefully that will improve b - but a is very frustrating - even for major fans of the sport...
a) is what they are working on this coming season. It started at the end of last season with games on network TV. It helps that they lucked into 2 or 3 of the most exciting matches of the year . . .
b) is taken care of by exposure, much the same way that Gridiron Football sells well in the UK - despite a longstanding, unititiated underlying attitude of "it's rugby for girls".
I agree that there are many teams with great history - a ManUre (sorry, can't help myself) Man Utd clip in the vein of the Spurs clip above would be epic. Clips like these start to go beyond just modern day players (most of whom do not stay with one club any length of time) and to the traditions and personalities. The Yankees do this exceptionally well in Baseball, keeping Old Timers involved and visible.
Really, I'm just excited for the season to start. After the most gut crushing end to a season I can remember, this off-season has been more upbeat than any in my memory.
I've played soccer my entire life including a stint of semi-pro footie in England itself. I'm a huge fan of the sport and follow it overseas as well as here at home. However, I have zero interest in picking an EPL team to root for due to the lack of parity in the league. It's always the same 4-5 teams at the top. To me, that's yawn-worthy...incredibly yawn-worthy.
Having fully watched the video, I fail to see anything that would generate tears streaming down my face.
Yeah, that was kind of my question - if the clip was effective for casual/non fans.
Many of the moments are iconic to long time Spurs fans - Glen Hoddle's last goal at White Hart Lane, Ricky Villa's Cup winning goal, Lennon to Crouch to beat Milan in the Champion's League, Mabbutt/Perryman/Roberts raising the Cup.
Reminds us why we go through hell with this underacheiving team year afer year - Spurs were once (50 years ago) the best team in the world, and still try to play "the right way", sometimes to their detriment.
"It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory." - Bill Nicholson
"The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom." - Danny Blanchflower
I'm a Spurs fan so of course I enjoyed it. We always play attractively even at the cost of results sometimes but I'm happy with that.
Also that Arsenal mind the gap graphic is massively false as I pointed out to Mike Hibbert on Facebook the other day. Arsenal are more successful in the league and (just) in the FA Cup but we have a better record in the League Cup and in European competition. So I have no idea how the sorted that image out.
Not seeing much love for your own MLS by all you US-based people...
It's getting there. But to date the quality of play is still pretty mediocre. I *want* to like it - I went to a few Metrostars games in their inaugural season - but at the end of the day, I'd rather watch the pros . . .