Attracting Soccer Fans Using Acquisition Analytics

Lauren Kornick

Connect with Causeway, Major League Soccer, Acquisition Analytics

November 28, 2022

Attracting Soccer Fans Using Acquisition Analytics

With Amazon Prime picking up “Thursday Night Football,” streaming services are seeing the benefits of catering to sports fans.

The latest announcement of Apple’s new Major League Soccer (MLS) season pass reminded us about our latest Connect With Causeway podcast episode. Listen to the discussions on our podcast episode, “What the Economy, Streaming Wars, and the World Cup Have in Common.”

In addition, our October survey included questions about soccer and this year’s World Cup. The survey results will shed some light on the potential strengths and flaws on Apple’s plan, along with possible paths for monetizing MLS viewership and even increasing it!

Almost 6 months ago, Apple made an agreement with MLS to broadcast matches for the next 10 years for $2.5 billion, or $250 million per year. On November 16th, Apple announced their MLS Season Pass package. Starting February 1st, fans can subscribe to watch live MLS games including regular season matches, playoffs, and the Leagues Cup. The pass will cost $14.99 per month during the season or $99 per season for non-TV+ subscribers, while Apple TV+ subscribers can sign up for $12.99 per month and $79 per season.

In October, we ran a survey of 1,500 consumers asking questions on a range of topics, including interest in MLS and interest in the FIFA world cup. As is always the case, the World Cup generates a lot of international buzz. In 2018, 3.5 billion people tuned in internationally, including 12-15 million Americans.

Given the global scale interest in the world cup, MLS fans make an obvious, significantly sized audience to want to capture. That’s exactly what Causeway Solutions’ survey showed, with 49% of consumers watching or following soccer leagues in general at least a little beyond the world cup.

Although the international market is huge, the domestic market for MLS for Apple leaves a bit to be desired. However, information from Causeway Solutions’ Acquisition Analytics, predictive and prescriptive modeling could help Apple or other companies capture an audience that can be easily persuaded to watch MLS.

Although almost half of consumers said that they were following MLS at least a little, only 22% said they were following regularly and only 44% have a favorable view of MLS. Following the FIFA world cup, only 45% of those planning to watch the 2022 world cup follow regular-season soccer, making this segment of consumers the likely target for Apple’s new plan. This segment, based on 2018’s viewer numbers, equates to about 6 million potential customers, generating a maximum of about $90 million of revenue per month. Given that regular followers of MLS will be the only consumers likely willing to pay for viewing, the revenue domestically will not come close to helping handle the costs.

But there is potential for the domestic market and Causeway Solutions’ survey has given insight to the answer. Despite only 45% of FIFA world cup viewers following regular soccer, about three quarters of FIFA viewers have a favorable opinion of MLS, providing a market opportunity. This gap is one that MLS and Apple could potentially market to for regular season viewing.

How would they do that? Messaging does not need to simply focus on specific players or countries or teams. For FIFA viewers and both regular and “not regular” soccer viewers, only about half plan on watching the world cup for players or teams. The other half watch either because the world cup has become traditional viewing or because they enjoy the excitement of soccer.

With these insights, and the potential for more, Causeway Solutions can help to figure out the proper strategy for collecting MLS viewership, to find the best messaging for persuasion, and to grow the viewership base to recoup the investment.

Learn more and receive a complimentary Discovery Session: [email protected].