Mike Koeshartanto

What are the Top Soccer Markets in the U.S.?

Congratulations, Los Angeles, the #1 soccer market in the U.S.

Results from the GESM Soccer Market Rankings Study – the first study of its kind – reveals the City of Angels as the top soccer market in the country.

“The goal of the study was to look holistically at soccer interest on a market level through the aggregation of a number of different insights” said John Guppy, President & Founder, Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing. “We considered data that addressed soccer TV viewership, attendance, participation, social conversation, and digital search, to compile an objective quantifiable ranking of markets.”

The methodology utilized to develop the study was specifically created to consider a broad range of factors addressing all the different types of soccer fan and soccer interests that exist in the U.S. Collectively a total of 22 different data sets were evaluated and provided via independent sources including: Scarborough, Google, Facebook, Twitter, FoxSoccer.com, MLS, US Soccer, MLS, NASL, NWSL, and USL. Data addressed a cross section of soccer consumption from the five main principles of:

  •    Playing
  •    Watching
  •    Attending
  •    Conversing
  •    Searching

All represented data was either an indexed number or factored proportion calculated against market population and applied to each Nielsen Designated Market Area (DMA). A market ranking was assigned within each data set and applied a factor weighting. Individual rankings were aggregated to generate an overall composite score and a final market ranking.

Joining Los Angeles in the top 10 markets were six (6) other MLS markets: Houston (2), Dallas/Ft. Worth (3), Washington DC (4), New York (5), Seattle/Tacoma (6), and Denver/Boulder (7). Interestingly, three non-MLS markets also featured in the top 10. El Paso (8), San Diego (9), and McAllen/Brownsville/Harlingen (10).

We are very excited to unveil the full GESM Soccer Market Rankings.


Top 5 Market Discussion

To give you a deeper dive into our rankings and illustrate why a market is ranked where it is, let’s look at our top five…

No. 5: New York City

Coming in at #5 in our soccer market rankings is the Big Apple, New York City.  NYC is a mecca for soccer on several levels. The city is home to two MLS teams (New York Red Bulls and New York City FC), the NY Cosmos (NASL), Sky Blue FC (NWSL) as well as several major international matches. No city is more culturally diverse than NYC with a thriving European and South American club team supporter culture and a bold pride for national teams from around the world.

New York’s #5 overall ranking was driven in part by a top 3 showing in 4 different categories: Overall aggregate attendance, UEFA Champions League Facebook activity, Google searches for soccer, and unique visitors to the Foxsoccer website. But more modest rankings in categories such as soccer participation (Scarborough) and U.S. Soccer activity on Facebook led New York to the #5 slot and not the top position as some may have expected.

No. 4: Washington, D.C.

For the #4 soccer market on our list, we travel south down I-95 from New York to Washington, D.C. Home to D.C. United of MLS, the Washington Spirit of NWSL, several U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team games per year, as well as various international club or national team friendlies, D.C. residents see their fair share of soccer.

DC is one of the most popular cities in the U.S. for Millennials – soccer’s most passionate demographic. This fact likely help drive the markets strong ranking in several digital categories including Google searches of “soccer” where it ranked #1. Strong TV viewership and soccer participation rankings also helped the nation’s capital into the 4th overall spot on our list.

No. 3: Dallas-Fort Worth

At #3 on the Soccer Market Rankings list we travel deep in the heart of Texas to the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Home to a large Hispanic population, several Mexican National Team games per year, FC Dallas of MLS, and Jerry Jones’ palace for friendlies and qualifiers, the Big D is a must-hit place for soccer fans, promoters, and brands.

At its foundation, Dallas is a youth soccer mecca. Home of the Dallas Cup, the most prestigious youth soccer tournament in the country, Dallas ranked #8 in overall soccer participation. The large and growing Mexican community chipped in with some strong rankings for Liga MX Google searches (5th) and Liga MX Facebook activity (9th). Dallas also ranked 4th in visits to FoxSoccer.com.

No. 2: Houston-Galveston

Coming in at #2 on our list is the Space City.  Home to a large Hispanic population, the Houston Dynamo of MLS, the Dash of NWSL, and an NFL stadium that attracts major international soccer events, Houston is a great soccer market.

Houston ranks well across many categories including aggregate attendance (5th) and overall Scarborough attendance (6th). Facebook keyword activity is notably strong with Major League Soccer (5th), Liga MX (2nd), Mexican National Team (4th), and UEFA Champions League (5th).  A 6th place ranking for Scarborough soccer television viewership also helps round out an impressive showing for Houston.

No. 1: Los Angeles

The market at the top of our list is Los Angeles. The City of Angels is home to the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS who is soon to be joined by Los Angeles Football Club in 2018. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena has truly been one of the cathedrals of soccer in the U.S. over the last few decades. From World Cups (men’s and women’s) to club friendlies to Gold Cups and everything in-between, over 90,000 soccer fans have packed the Rose Bowl on more than one occasion. Beyond infrastructure is the booming Hispanic population that plays and watches the sport in huge numbers. For many reasons, Los Angeles is #1 in our 2016 GESM Soccer Market Rankings.

Los Angeles ranks in the top five for Scarborough TV ratings (3rd), Scarborough participation (4th), and aggregate attendance (3rd).  Socially, Los Angeles ranks highly in several Facebook keyword activity categories, including Futbol (4th), Major League Soccer (7th), English Premier League (9th), UEFA Champions League (6th), Liga MX (5th), U.S. Soccer (4th), and Mexican National Team (5th).  Google searches also ranked highly for almost every category, while a 1st overall ranking in FoxSoccer.com visits round out an impressive showing for Los Angeles.



(Source: SI.com)

Categories: Editorial, Featured, Soccer Marketing, Thought Leadership