Let’s face it, there’s a cornucopia of outlets from which you can get your general news and updates, let alone soccer-specific news. If you’re a major domestic soccer brand in a sea of globally relevant brands, what media outlet can you turn to educate and invigorate the next crop of fans?
In the race to reach new fans amidst a world saturated in content and news, MLS and U.S. Soccer recently signed a content distribution deal with Bleacher Report. Why? Bleacher Report captures an audience that MLS and U.S. Soccer need – young soccer-crazy and tech-savvy fans.
Bleacher Report and MLS, U.S. Soccer join forces
The multiyear deal sees Bleacher Report develop and distribute original content through owned platforms, including B/R Football. The agreement runs through 2022 and comes at a time in which the league has great momentum following a successful MLS is Back Tournament.
Also of note, this deal comes at an interesting time as the league moves closer to future broadcast and distribution negotiations. The deal with Turner-owned Bleacher Report adds another media outlet to an impressive list of North American partners, including ESPN, Fox, and Univision, as well as TSN and TVA in Canada.
Could the start of the relationship with Turner be a precursor to a wider relationship that includes game broadcasts? It’s certainly possible and something to keep an eye on as the Bleacher Report partnership plants roots and blossoms. For now, however, the added benefit of additional content distribution partners for MLS and U.S. Soccer can’t be understated.
Strategic move to align with younger, soccer-crazy fans
If you consume Bleacher Report’s content or follow their accounts on social in particular, it’s clear how their strategy and target audience differs from the likes of ESPN, Sports Illustrated, NBC, etc. Bleacher Report has become the preeminent content outlet for younger fans. Whether it’s B/R Football or House of Highlights, Bleacher Report has done a tremendous job identifying their target demos and crafting content that audience will find engaging.
Their audience is young, tech-savvy, energetic, and hungry. If you’re MLS and U.S. Soccer, this partnership surely has benefits in the immediate term. However, it’s also a long-term play to get younger fans into the mix, engaged with your brand early, and more receptive to a lifelong fandom. At the heart of this partnership is the interest in growing and maturing the next generation of American soccer fans.
What content can fans expect from Bleacher Report?
Good question and one we don’t totally have an answer for, yet. However, if B/R Football’s current content narrative is any indication, expect lots of vibrant and colorful content that catches your eye. Expect illustrations and player caricatures from their team of talented designers. Expect photoshops highlighting players with ties to the U.S. National Team. Also expect video highlights and key moments, as well as other video features.
The first piece of original longer-form MLS content debuted recently and highlights the effort required to compete for, earn, and maintain a place at an MLS academy in a new series appropriately called, The Academy.
"You’re not talking about just creating a soccer player. You’re talking about creating a whole person”
Talented young players go to The Academy to chase their dreams. Now, more than ever, they have to fight to make it.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 19, 2020
While it remains to be seen what other creative ideas the Bleacher Report team will unveil, we’re selfishly hoping to see an MLS or U.S. Soccer version of the The Champions – the soccer equivalent to the widely popular Game of Zones (NBA) or Gridiron Heights (NFL) series.