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South Florida Paces ESPN’s Confederations Cup Final Numbers


Steve Goff of the Washington Post reports that the US-Brazil final on ESPN garnered a 2.7 overnight rating. (I had received a text message earlier in the day that the match had received a 2.8 rating) which is the highest rating ever for a non World Cup, US game on ESPN.

What is most surprising however is that the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market received the highest market share nationally and that the West Palm Beach market ranked 4th. The South Florida market tends to watch most of its football on Spanish language stations, and these numbers do not include viewers on Univision which were sure to be numerous.

South Florida actually is a more football savvy market than many in the U.S. That’s why Jamaica, Honduras, Colombia, and Haiti among others consistently play well attended friendlies in either Fort Lauderdale or Miami. CONCACAF continued to bring Gold Cup matches to Miami right until the demolition of the Orange Bowl and announced the launch of the CONCACAF Champions League in Miami, not New York or Mexico City.

In February, the Mexico-US game beat American Idol locally in TV viewership among the key 25-54 year old demographic. So despite the perception among the fans of many MLS or USL clubs that the market is weak, the truth is that it is actually quite strong for the game.

Latin fans, who make up the majority of the local supporters are picky. I’ve seen commentary about how South Floridians do or do not support other sports teams in other leagues. But we are comparing apples to oranges. The NFL, NBA and MLB are the top professional leagues on the planet in their respective sports. MLS, is to put it diplomatically a nice domestic league with a set of rules that are odd for World Football and a bunch of players that most Latino fans have never heard of.

Part of the reason MLS did not agree with south Florida when the Fusion were around was because quite honestly the product was completely inferior to what local fans were accustomed to. But it wasn’t just inferiority to Latin or European football but the product was in the mind of many inferior to the beloved NASL which left a permanent imprint on South Florida’s Soccer/Football community.

USL-1’s Miami FC struggles to get a decent gate week in and week out and in fact plays in three different home stadiums spread over a 40 mile radius. But the club averages the lowest attendance in USL-1.

This TV rating gives me pride as a South Floridian but also makes me angry. I wish the Latino fans and other European oriented fans that made that rating seem unwilling to give USL a chance and created little buzz when MLS was actively looking at returning to the area earlier this year.

A disconnect still exists between fans of international football and US club soccer. The National Team can be the bridge between these groups of fans and the engine for positive growth nationally. Perhaps South Florida provides a perfect test case.

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  1. zhe fulano

    January 9, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Having had a few months to reflect on this, I agree with a lot of what has been said.

    In the summer, soccer games at night would be nice. Playing them in the middle of the day can be out right brutal. If MLS goes to the traditional FIFA (winter) schedule, Miami will be a phenomenal place for a team. Winter games played in So. Fla. will make for superb vacation destinations for fans of visiting teams, and the locals will be able to enjoy midday games without risking heat stroke.

    Marketing is a big issue. There’s a huge hispanic population (over 60% of Dade County’s 2.5 million residents); a significant and growing Brasilian population; a large Haitian community and a fair population of traditional Peoria. These demographics translate into a market that has more true passion for soccer than just about any other city in the U.S. It shows in the local high schools, which consistently produce some of the best teams in the state. On a different note, also consider that sports events in Miami also generate interest from folks living in Greater Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

    If well thought out, Miami could be the ideal MLS city.

  2. Juan-John

    July 1, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Anybody seen any ratings numbers for Univision’s broadcast of last Sunday’s Confederations Cup game?

  3. Potomitan

    July 1, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    If MLS expect to drop a franchise (like they were dropping a McDonald’s) in the soccer state that is Florida, of course they will fail. When MLS take soccer in Florida seriously by giving them a club, and involve the locals the way Seattle Sounders involve the locals, then they’ll see success. MIAMI FUSION what kind of name is that, and make it easy for locals to be able to try out for the club. Better marketing would be important.

  4. Frank

    July 1, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Lack of marketing down in Florida.

  5. Pat

    June 30, 2009 at 9:49 am

    “As a south florida resident I can attest to this. MLS and USL just aren’t of a good enough quality particularly in the summer heat to waste my time with it.”

    Okay, then. This is why the rest of the country doesn’t have a great deal of sympathy for your lack of an MLS team and the struggles of Miami FC. It’s a fanbase that doesn’t seem to want to support the domestic leagues, and that’s fine, but I’m tired of hearing about it then. I hope both the leagues pull out and stay out of Florida. I think it’s a waste of their time to try and get people out to the games.

    And define “traditional calendar”. How do you make that work in places like Chicago, New England, Minnesota, and Rochester? They would have to play some games in domes or on snow.

  6. Lars

    June 30, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Adam, you complain about quality of the teams and then proclaim that attendance would double on a traditional calendar. The two are not related, why bring it up?

  7. Tommie

    June 30, 2009 at 12:41 am

    Regardless of the Fusion’s failure and the current struggles of Miami FC you have to admit it is impressive that two of the top four markets for the USMNT’s biggest game in years were South Florida markets. I know most of the LA, Houston and Phoenix viewers watched in Spanish, but in English that is impressive and speaks to a certain snobbishness which isn’t acceptable for MLS but would make Miami a natural world cup host city.

  8. Lee (not the other one)

    June 30, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Fan, perhaps you aren’t sophisticated enough to understand that MLS or USL doesn’t resemble the type of football most people in Miami are used to.

  9. adam

    June 30, 2009 at 12:06 am

    As a south florida resident I can attest to this. MLS and USL just aren’t of a good enough quality particularly in the summer heat to waste my time with it. But Soccer is strong in south florida, stronger than just about anywhere in the nation. But we like good football- we’re not eurosnobs as you accuse of being Kartik, but the Fusion were horrible to watch and Miami FC are even worse! With the exception of one season, the eight years we’ve had teams in MLS or USL they are in the bottom half of the league. I watch the national team and went to season opener at Lockhart this year for FC, and that game was good but when you hold games on Sunday afternoon at 6pm when it is either raining or 100 degrees, how do you expect to get anyone? The Fusion was the same. ESPN showed a game against DC United at 2pm one Saturday and I went and thought I’d die of heat stroke.

    If MLS and USL played on a traditional calender the attendance would double in South Florida and probably in Tampa also when they return to USL next year.

  10. Juan-John

    June 29, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    But yeah, Lars, I take your point. Makes sense.

  11. Juan-John

    June 29, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Slightly OT, but looks like Mexico is scheduling its August game against the USMNT at Azteca to kick off at 4pm Eastern:

  12. Lars

    June 29, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Again Juan, I would argue that is because of two baseball teams in Florida. Yes, St. Petersburg and Miami are far apart and the attendance effect would be minimal, but merchandising and tv contracts would be stronger for one team than being split between two teams. When Florida tams produces winning teams they get good crowds. See the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Marlins (when they were good), the Devil Rays (last year).

    It’s easier to produce a winner when you have a stronger local TV contract and better merchandising sales.

  13. Juan-John

    June 29, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    It ain’t just MLS that South Florida is a bad market for. Tonight’s Marlins-Nationals baseball game drew an announced attendance of just over 10,000 (but in reality it was closer to 3000).

  14. Lars

    June 29, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Kartik, I’d love to see a team in South Florida in MLS. But when I say a team, I mean a team. Not two. I think part of the failure of the Floridian teams was not just due to quality of the product, but quantity. Placing two teams in the same market at once prevents them both from getting that initial footing. It’s a shame to see Miami’s terrible attendance, but really, this is to be expected when you’re travelling to three stadiums to play football. How can anybody take a team that has to make a road trip to play home games seriously?

    Put a team in Miami, or put one in St. Petersburg, but don’t put teams in both at the same time. It’s a recipe for failure. I’ve typically made the NHL argument for this one, but I know you disagree as you feel NHL is a novelty rather than a norm in South Florida. But I’d counter with the fact that both teams have had fantastic support in the past, but neither team received that same level of support at the same time. Floridan fans will go to the winner.

    With all the talk about Montreal buying their way into MLS in 2011, I’d like to see a team in the US Southeast, and the league capped at twenty with plans for an MLS-2 and Promotion/Relegation…

  15. Soccer Jerseys

    June 29, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    It’s time to end the Florida soccer experiment, having a professional team there will never work.

  16. Uncle Ed

    June 29, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    I totally agree with you Kartik!
    As a South Florida resident I’m tired of these soccer snobs. I meet Soccer fans all over Miami who are die hard fans but only of the big teams or their countries local teams, Its frustrating.

  17. Fan

    June 29, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    More BS excuses from south Florida. The market has failed time and time again and holds up this snobbery of “we’re more sophisticated than you.”


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