Bayer Leverkusen broke its dud by winning the Bundesliga for the first time in its history this weekend. An undefeated season under Xabi Alonso has the German outfit playing as one of the best soccer teams in the world, let alone Germany. While adding the Meisterschale is great for the club, the Bundesliga is hoping an underdog story like Bayer Leverkusen can pay dividends for the league entirely.

Much of the American criticism of the Bundesliga came from the fact that one team wins it every year. Before Bayer Leverkusen broke Bayern Munich’s hegemony, the German giants had won 11 Bundesliga titles on the spin. As a result, there was no belief as to having parity in the league. Regardless of what happened over the 34 matchdays, it was always going to be Bayern Munich. Success in 2023/24 changes that perspective, but it does not directly mean more Americans will watch in the future.

For better or worse, growing a soccer audience in the United States comes down to star power. There are established teams like Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus, or even Borussia Dortmund that may not have the top, top players in the world, but their past successes warrant more supporters. Then, there are the teams that regularly attract the elites worldwide. Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, and even PSG have courted the top players that people want to watch, so they go out of their way to watch that team or competition.

Leverkusen treble and European success would help the Bundesliga in the USA

That has been the methodology of Major League Soccer. Bringing in players like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Wayne Rooney has brought temporary boosts in viewership for the league. This is not to say the Bundesliga and Bayer Leverkusen need better players. Anyone who watches the German top flight understands that the balance of the competition is its greatest strength. However, only Bayern Munich has players that casual fans can easily name. Florian Wirtz, Jeremie Frimpong, and Victor Boniface are all 23 and under for Leverkusen, and they should grow to be among the best in their positions over time. For now, winning the Bundesliga does not massively help the league as it may desire.

If there were one way for the Bundesliga to garner more viewership in the USA, it would be for Leverkusen to have success in European competition. There are two major reasons for this: proven opposition and more meaningful contests. Playing in the Europa League generally has a stigma as a weaker competition compared to the Champions League. While the Champions League tends to have teams like Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Real Madrid, and other elite teams, traditional Europa League teams are inferior.

This season, though, Liverpool, Milan, Benfica, and Marseille have all won the European Cup or UEFA Champions League. If Bayer Leverkusen emerges from that pack that also includes West Ham United, Roma and Atalanta, the club’s profile immediately goes up. Along the way, it would play in massive games at home and on the road. The BayArena showed its fervor as fans stormed the field in celebration of a first domestic title. If Americans see that on a European stage, they may be more inclined to support the side.

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A new means for parity in the Bundesliga

Looking domestically, Bayer Leverkusen’s title triumph is something the German league must capitalize on. It used the star-power argument for the Rekordmeister as Bayern Munich hit double digits in consecutive title wins. Now, four teams can win the Bundesliga. Advertising and building up Bayern, Leverkusen, Dortmund and RB Leipzig must be at the forefront of the league’s goals. A closer title fight akin to the Premier League this season can draw in more eyes.