That was a really good World Cup, right? (Not to mention I was right about Messi and Neuer.) But now the WC is over, and Americans — who aren’t, by and by, “real” soccer fans — may revert back to not really caring about soccer anymore. Here’s the litmus test: The International Champions Cup.
It runs from July 24 to August 4 and features a number of impressive cities as venues — Minneapolis, Charlotte, Ann Arbor, Berkeley, Dallas, etc. with the final being in Miami (good choice) — as well as a host of top European clubs including Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, AS Roma, and AC Milan. They’ve got a pretty good TV package with Fox Sports, Fox Sports 1-2, and NBC Sports Network covering it.
Now the question is: coming off a dramatic, mostly-compelling World Cup where the U.S. themselves got to the Round of 16, will people actually show up for / watch these games? Most of the stars of these teams do participate — it tends to be a warm-up for their league seasons — so that’s not necessarily the issue if the attendance or TV figures are low.
About 306K fans attended games in 2013 — and obviously, that wasn’t a World Cup year — but the TV ratings weren’t amazing: about 137K per game on FOX Soccer. In television, 137K would get derided by executives as “a blog audience.” (I wish.) The Real Madrid-Chelsea final last year had about 317K viewers, and that featured a world-wide superstar in Ronaldo.
You’ve got 76 players from the World Cup participating:
And you’ve got NFL teams behind it on social (granted, NFL teams don’t have as much to tweet about in mid-July):
This might be the last year for the ICC to resonate on U.S. soil; it looks as if it may be headed to Asia after that.
My personal belief is that the numbers will be good, not great for this tournament — even the two games on FOX itself (major network) probably won’t pop major numbers, even though they involve Manchester United (them vs. AS Roma and vs. Real Madrid; that latter game is at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor and should look pretty cool on TV if they pop 100K in there). I don’t think it’s enough to say soccer has “arrived” in the United States, but … I think the numbers will be decent, and definitely get a bump from the World Cup being just a few weeks before.