Friday, June 25, 2010

Soccer Proves Games Don't Need To Be On At Primetime

If the World Cup proves one thing, it is that we will watch live sporting events no matter the time. Despite games stating in the morning and afternoon on the east coast, viewers are watching in droves. "Wednesday’s United States-Algeria soccer match was watched by an average of 6.2 million people and 4 percent of American households on ESPN, both records for soccer in the history of ESPN networks." And of course that doesn't measure all the other ancillary devices and places that the game is seen. Yes work productivity may suffer a little, but viewership is not. And given its daytime viewership, we can actually watch the entire game, from beginning to final minutes. In fact, soccer has never been more popular in the US. The result of games at reasonable times may simply yield more long term fans, both young and old. Perhaps this news is something that other major league sports should consider.

With baseball, football, and other US sports, late starts mean late endings. The day when kids could come home from school in time to catch the baseball game has become a distant memory; too few and too far between. We can only hope that the networks look hard and long at the World Cup success. Maybe then, some World Series Games could actually start in the afternoon and we can watch the entire game. And as content is untethered, we can watch games regardless of here we are - at home, at work, outside. And with better scheduling, the leagues and networks may actually grow their fan base, just as soccer is growing. But if they don't, be forewarned, soccer interest could one day overtake baseball in fans and viewership.

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