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Bayern Munich Prepare to Conquer United States

bayern munich Bayern Munich Prepare to Conquer United States

FC Bayern was at one time one of the most popular European soccer clubs in the United States. That was before the sport and particularly the European club game exploded in popularity. Bayern’s last visit to the United States was in 2004. The Bundesliga club has visited China and India more recently than the USA.

The Bavarian giants have established themselves in recent years as arguably the biggest footballing power on the European continent. Yet because of the surge in popularity of the Premier League in the US, including a record TV rights deal with NBC, Bayern’s growth has been stunted. The Bundesliga’s TV deal with GolTV has limited the exposure that Bayern has enjoyed in the States, with many newer American fans exposure to the club limited to appearances in the UEFA Champions League against popular English and Spanish clubs.

But all that is about to change.

FOX Sports has acquired the US media rights to the Bundesliga for 2015-20. Plus, Bayern have announced that they’ll play in the 2014 MLS All-Star Game, scheduled for late July or early August.

The club and Bundesliga  are playing catchup to win fans in the emerging American market. Despite arguably sporting the most technically gifted and competitive major European league, the Bundesliga continues to appeal mostly to a niche audience of die-hards and German ex-pats in the United States.

Perhaps some of the failings of the Bundesliga have to do with the lack of perceived star power, despite Germany’s impressive international soccer footprint. Oftentimes it seems German players get more recognition in the United States when they leave German clubs and join either Real Madrid or one of the top English clubs. This condition of course ignores the very real star quality the Bundesliga has, especially with so many South American stars in the league. Hispanics represent the fastest growing demographic in the United States and that demographic is represented by many nationalities who are developing in the Bundesliga.  Still this has not grown the interest in the league and in Bayern within the United States when compared to the other top European sides.

Bayern will become the first German club to participate in the mid-summer MLS All-Star Game. Last week, Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge outlined how the American market is important to the growth of the Munich based club’s brand.

“We are discussing to go to the U.S. for a week and add one or two games,” Rummenigge said. “The DFL takes great interest that we head over to the States.”

Beginning in 2015, the Bundesliga will be featured on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 giving the league a wider potential audience than any European domestic league outside of the Premier League. Plus Bayern are planning on opening an office in New York.

As Bayern moves towards that noteworthy moment when the German league could explode in popularity Stateside, they are prepared to leverage their brand accordingly.

This entry was posted in Bayern Munich, Leagues: Bundesliga. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

5 Responses to Bayern Munich Prepare to Conquer United States

  1. Flyvanescence says:

    If they come anywhere close to philadelphia this summer i will likely be there.

  2. R.O says:

    The Bundesliga was very popular in the 1970′s and into the mid 1980′s thanks to PBS “Soccer Made in Germany” and Toby Charles.

    First every Friday night and later every Saturday afternoon. The Best Bundesliga game of the week (edited from 90 min to 60 mins) was shown.

    It wasn’t only Bayern. Schalke, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Gladbach were shown. I’d say that was US soccer fans first big exposure to European Soccer on a weekly basis.

    I just loved Toby Charles commentary for Soccer Made in German. Later on Alan Fountain took over for Toby.

    I am lucky to have some games on VCR.

    Then some time in the mid-80′s fewer PBS stations carried “Soccer Made in Germany” and a many of top German players went to play in Serie A. Italian soccer (football) overtook and the Bundesliga in popularity. The Bundesliga in the US went into hibernation.

    In the 90′s it was the EPL that flourished here and in the last 6 years, La Liga also got popular across the board with US fan.

    My concern with Fox winning the rights to Bundesliga games are that they will do the same thing as they are doing for Champions League. Show 80-90% of the games on Fox to Go instead of FS1 (Comcast is not carrying FS2 in my area – maybe by 2015 they will).

    If Fox has most of games on Fox To Go, that’s no better than Goltv which 99% of providers no longer carry.

    I’m hoping Fox shows 2-3 games per weekend plus the weekly Bundeliga Highlight show on FS1.

    • Morocco Mole says:

      Bayern on FS1?

      That would be suicidal.

      A crappy college basketball game, i.e. NJIT @ Seton Hall, would draw 3-5x the viewers compared to a Bundesliga match.

      Time to lower your expectations.

      A handful of Bundesliga matches on FS2, i.e. Bayern vs Dortmund, and the rest dumped on FS+ or FS2Go, would make more sense.

      Until the Bundesliga can prove itself on FS2, i.e. 200000+ viewers per game involving Bayern Munich for a sustained period, the Bundesliga has no business being programmed for FS1.

      • Milhouse says:

        While i can see your point about viewership numbers in the US the truth of the matter is that the Bundesliga won’t be competing with College Basketball because 7pm (College Basketball tip off eastern time) is the middle of the night in Germany. A quick check of FS1 for this Saturday (12/14/13) shows Fox Sports live airing from 7am to 12. At 12 we get “Lucas Oil Drag Boats”.

        I think Bayern or Dortmund (likely the only two teams shown on a regular basis) will do fine against drag racing boats.

  3. Toby says:

    The fact is the Bundesliga will never be as big as the BPL in the US or the world, because English culture is more international and easier for foreign people to relate to. When you add English teams make more money, are more globally recognised and have better players just makes it impossible for German soccer to compete.

    Bayern Munich are by far the biggest team in Germany yet they are less popular globally than Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and even Chelsea. The Bundesliga also gives the impression as an uncompetitive league because it only has one big team, that buys the best players of their rival teams. Bayern Munich winning easily every week will do little to improve popularity of German soccer in the USA.

    Real Madrid and Barcelona have to buy the most expensive big name players just to try attract global interest away from the BPL and they are failing, so how is German soccer going to over come the popularity of the BPL, when the Bundesliga only has one team and most of the star players unknown Germans? The answer is it won’t and will always be a niche league for German ex-pats and soccer hipsters.

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