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Soccer’s fanbases are fractured into 100’s of pieces

In the NEW episode, number 1416, Christopher Harris is joined by co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer to discuss several topics:

• How soccer audiences have become more tribal and splintered
• Why MLS Commissioner Don Garber may have been right after all
• Is soccer a minority sport in the United States?
• Is there a sport in the U.S. that has a viewership that is more fractured than soccer?
• Some of the changes that may be coming to soccer Twitter
• Why it’s important to MLS for Seattle to beat Pumas
• Our recommended games to watch this weekend
• And your questions in the Listener Mailbag segment.

Plus we answer your questions in the Listener Mailbag segment.

Listen to the show via the player above or via this link.

Launched in 2006, the World Soccer Talk Podcast is the longest running podcast on the planet. Every week, we share the latest news about watching soccer on television and streaming, in addition to discussing what we like and dislike, and featuring your questions and feedback in our Listener Mailbag segment.

HEAR MORE: Listen to our archive featuring hundreds of soccer interviews

Send in your questions, comments and feedback via e-mail, via Twitter (@worldsoccertalk) or Facebook. We’ll read them out on-air in the next episode.

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  1. Drew

    May 4, 2022 at 10:32 pm

    You guys mentioned how the Premier League’s relegation race is a big part of the league’s attractiveness to fans. Why do you guys think that relegation races in other leagues such as La Liga, Bundesliga and Seria A don’t get anywhere near the attention that the PL does? I was thinking about this because all of the leagues I mentioned have very close relegation races that are going down to the wire.

  2. JP

    May 3, 2022 at 10:57 am

    Doubt the comment about some listeners saying if you don’t watch the Belgian league it means you don’t follow real soccer (or something to that effect) was directed towards me, but I did comment on last week’s pod not to sleep on the Belgian league playoff rounds that were starting. That was not meant to disparage others with different viewing patterns at all.

    The fractured issue extends beyond soccer. There are simply fewer things that become shared cultural events, or “water cooler” fodder in our age of streaming and viewing on demand with algorithyms suggesting what you should watch based on prior viewing habits. We’re all in our own world now.

    News, entertainment, etc all succumbing to this. Sports are most immune so far, but with soccer on the leading edge of the switch to streaming (and all the various leagues to follow rather than just 1 for most US based sports) it is most noticeable here.

    The days of only having Fox Soccer channel and getting what they give you are long gone. Back then soccer fans were likely all watching the same matches.

    EPL with OTA and cable presence will still dominate the viewing while other leagues go behind the streaming paywall and out of sight/out of mind except for the most dedicated fans (like those of us who frequent World Soccer Talk!)

  3. Roberto

    April 29, 2022 at 11:43 am

    The podcast presented a real contradiction. I agree with what Don Garber said all those years ago, there is too much world football on TV in the U.S. It is also true that people can and will watch the games that interest them.
    No other country in the world has so many choices. That has for sure weakened the MLS’ position with media outlets. In every other country their own leagues are prime. Here it has been cool to be a supporter of the super rich EPL teams (also some Barca and Bayern fans and others). If as was stated on the Pod these are the teams talked about at work*, that is a problem.
    This fracturing like Humpty/Dumpty cannot be put back together.
    *For some MLS cities this may not be true.

  4. dave

    April 29, 2022 at 1:44 am

    I enjoyed listening to this discussion. Fragmentation and customization are driving many changes in society, and soccer is no exception. Today, two serious soccer fans can have zero overlap in games and shoulder programming consumed during a week. There are pros and cons, and it is interesting to hear your perspectives on the dynamic.
    You described soccer fans getting cross over what makes a “true” soccer fan. I find arguing about personal preferences weird unless there is a zero-sum dynamic such that not everyone’s preferences can be fulfilled. A true soccer fan spends their entertainment time and money on soccer. Why would any fan be upset that another fan enjoys different soccer?
    College basketball strikes me as very fragmented. Just in the men’s game, there are 350 D1 teams each playing 30 games per year (~5000 games over 4 to 5 months). Most are on TV or streaming and fans often follow different leagues and teams. But there are so many more dimensions to soccer – league vs. cup vs. international, multiple countries, multiple languages, etc. – such that I think soccer “wins” as more fragmented.

  5. Chris Guardiano

    April 29, 2022 at 1:29 am

    Hi guys,
    When it comes to the topic of other sports that have a fanbase as fractured when it comes to viewership as soccer does, I would have to say baseball is up there. This is mainly because there is a generational split among fans, with older fans wanting the game to remain largely the same which includes having games remain on cable, RSN’s & OTA TV. On the other hand there are younger fans that want rule changes to make the game go faster (ex: pitch clock) as well as more streaming options to watch games (ex: Apple TV+) due to cutting the cord on cable. MLB is having a difficult time finding the right balance so that both generations of fans are happy and teams are still making money. It should be pointed out that these sets of fans are watching the same on field product but have differing views on it.

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