TikTok uses MLS as springboard into soccer, aims for more

Twenty-seven years in, Major League Soccer continues to reinvent itself — both on and off the field — as it now gears up for an exhilarating and volume-raising four-year leadup to the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Off the field, MLS and social media disruptor-turned-superpower TikTok are continuing to construct a strong partnership. For the 2021 season, TikTok signed its first MLS deal to be on the jersey sleeve of the Portland Timbers (and its sister-club, the NWSL Thorns). This season, the social media giant added Austin, Montreal and Toronto to its MLS portfolio.

Soccer player-turned-influencer Noah Beck published content live from some of MLS’ biggest events after joining the league to create TikTok content.

Adding to the activation, MLS and TikTok have built out a strong relationship with influencer and former Real Salt Lake academy player Noah Beck. Just this week, Forbes published its first ever ranking of the most powerful influencers on the Internet, listing Beck as the 28th most powerful influencer with partnerships with FIFA and non-soccer roles with Balmain, Ami Paris and Barebells, and others.

According to the Sports Business Journal and Emarketer, “it would not be surprising to see TikTok expand its soccer footprint in the next few years, especially as it rolls out a much-anticipated e-commerce solution” as 44% of TikTok users in the U.S. are under the age of 25, aligning well with the 54% of MLS’ fan base that’s aged younger than 45.

In 2021, the Portland Timbers exclusively unveiled their jerseys on TikTok as part of the club’s partnership with the social media platform.

In a similar Morning Consult poll, enthusiasm for soccer was higher among younger adults than the general population, with 40% of those ages 18-34 identifying as fans. 

Globally, TikTok also has soccer deals with the Confederation of African Football, UEFA Women’s Euro League, Burnley FC and is a shirt sponsor of Wrexham AFC — the lower-level soccer club in North Wales purchased by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and the focus of an FX documentary series “Welcome to Wrexham.”

Categories: Feature, Featured, Influencer, Major League Soccer, Soccer Marketing, Social Media, Sponsorship