2022 has proven to be another milestone year for the soccer industry, especially in North America — and next year isn’t projected to slow down at all.
If it feels like we say that every year, you’re probably right and that speaks to the sport’s continued growth. As supporters, there’s a lot to be excited about. As marketers, there are plenty of storylines that we see as major impact moments from the last 12 months.
These are our top-3 stories, trends, milestones, and more from 2022:
The 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup
We’ve fallen victim to the obvious recency bias, but also … It’s the WORLD CUP! Nothing is bigger in the game, from a global perspective, than the crown jewel event every four years.
This year has been special in every way, and its not over yet: from the off-the-pitch controversies to the record TV and streaming viewership numbers, to the marketing moves and beyond. And that goes without even mentioning the on-field upsets and individual performances.
Qatar 2022 has delivered from an exposure perspective. As North America sits awaiting the baton hand-off ahead of the 2026 event, the U.S., Canada and Mexico have reached new heights simultaneously:
- Viewership: Through the first 35 group stage matches, FOX is averaging more than 3 million viewers per game — a 38 percent improvement over the same time frame for the 2018 World Cup (2.18 million). Telemundo’s Spanish-language coverage is also drawing nearly 2.6 million viewers per contest on air and on Peacock and Telemundo streaming platforms. (source: Hollywood Reporter)
- MLS’ impact: All told, there were 36 active MLS players and one MLS NEXT Pro player (from 22 different clubs) that competed in Qatar for their respective national teams. That total doesn’t include the numerous coaching and player alumni that boast MLS experience as well.
- Canadians on the move: Canada coach John Herdman expects more of his World Cup squad to attract overseas attention, following Alistair Johnston (to Celtic) and Ismaël Koné (to Watford) completed moves to Europe: “Coming into Qatar our players, many of them, were unheard of I think a lot of our players have built credibility. As a collective group, they performed well together, but there were certainly some strong individual performances through the tournament.” (source: Canadian Press)
- Marketing: From Luis Vuitton‘s iconic trophy-suitcase campaign with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing chess to the usual hits by official FIFA World Cup partners like Budweiser, Adidas, Coca-Cola and Hyundai — the marketing efforts around the World’s biggest single-sport event have been impressive.
Can’t wait to see what comes next!
2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup Host Cities
On June 16, FIFA announced the American, Canadian, and Mexican cities which will host matches at the FIFA World Cup 2026. There are eleven from the USA, three from Mexico and two from Canada:
MLS x Apple TV’s 10-year deal
Big things (rights fee, global exposure, innovation, term-length) are coming for MLS after agreeing to a historic and ground-breaking deal with Apple TV to host the League’s exclusive subscription service to feature live broadcasts, original content and replays of MLS and Leagues Cup content to more than 100 countries without blackouts or restrictions
Fans can subscribe for as low as $12.99 a month or $79 a season, or just become season ticket holders for your favorite MLS club. A selection of MLS and Leagues Cup matches, including playoff matchups, will also be available at no additional cost to Apple TV+ subscribers, with a limited number of matches available for free on the Apple TV app and potentially on linear TV.
The last 12 months were filled with exciting moments, announcements, creativity and beyond. There’s no reason to expect anything less from 2023. We’ll continue diving in and breaking down the biggest trends — past and present — as we keep climbing toward the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup in North America.