Bayern Munich Americas President Rudolph Vidal can point to a lot of metrics to illustrate the growth of the club’s reach in the United States as well as its impressive network of supporters throughout the country. But the challenge the club and Bundesliga faces in the United States is that almost all of its matches are played at the same time as the most popular English-language soccer league in the country — the Premier League.
When asked whether the German league may consider shifting the kickoffs of matches in Germany in the future in order to be at better times for Asia or the United States, Vidal was open minded.
“I wouldn’t say no. I would say ‘Let’s see what works in those markets,'” said Vidal. “The good thing is that you have nine different games so you are able to shift those timeslots.”
Currently, Bundesliga games are played on Fridays (2:30pm ET), Saturdays (9:30-11:30am ET and 12:30-2:30pm ET) and Sundays (9:30-11:30am ET and 11:30am-1:30pm ET). The English Premier League began scheduling a small number of Friday games in the 2016/17 season, while their weekend schedule typically consists of Saturdays (7:30-9:30am ET, 10am-Noon ET and 12:30-2:30pm) as well as Sundays (8:30-10:30am ET and 11am-1pm ET).
On US television, the Premier League is averaging 462,954 viewers compared to 74,491 with the Bundesliga.
Despite the mountain that Bayern Munich and the league face to improve TV viewing numbers in the United States, the work that the Bayern Munich Americas has been doing from its office in New York has been impressive.
“When we came to the States, we had 7 fan clubs. We now have 109 fan clubs in 38 states,” said Vidal. “Having an office here makes it so much easier for the fans to reach out to the club.”
The Bayern Munich Americas president explained how close his organization works with the different Bayern fan clubs throughout the Americas, helping them set up watch parties as well as communicating with them. They also have a dedicated contact person in the New York office.
“When we started working in the US we had a total, according to market research, 12.7 million people who were interested in Bayern Munich. Now we’re nearly 30 million in two and a half years.”
This summer, Bayern Munich will be playing a series of games in Asia as part of the International Champions Cup. Asked when the team will return to the United States to play friendlies stateside, Vidal said that it’s likely the team will visit in 2018.
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