Social media is and has been the big, new, and growing media platform to use for some time now. Now sports are starting to become more active with social media in order to best have their content reach fans. Major League Soccer has taken this to a new level with the signing of a new deal with Facebook that allows them to live steam entire soccer games. Now they’ve already started a few preliminary games on FaceBook live through the Concacaf Champions League Tournament, but his contract is different. The deal includes 22 full MLS games and also 40 episodes of a new series called “Matchday Live” that is being posted onto Univision Deportes Facebook page. As an add on, there will be unspecified “graphics” and polls that will allow fans to have a more interactive experience with the match.
This is a big deal for both Facebook and MLS. For Facebook, this could be the next step in sports watching media. The trend nowadays seems to be all about getting more interactive and personal to the consumer. With the ability to not only watch games but interact with them, fans may be able to feel like they’re even more part of the game than they were before. Who knows what the limit on these functions could be? They could include trivia or quizzes and link them to prizes. The possibilities are endless.
This may even be bigger for MLS though. It is by far the youngest of the big organized professional sports leagues, having only been started in 1996. However, MLS is growing by leaps and bounds in essentially all measurable statistics. They had their highest ever average attendance in 2016 (21,692) behind only MLB and the NFL. The average net worth of a team rose by 18%. However, social media is where they really outpace the other four major sports. Though a little dated, social hits with MLS increased by 34% year-over-year in 2015 compared to 2014. Every other major sport had either a decline or remained relatively the same, except the NHL which saw a growth of about 7%. In more recent news, followers of MLS across all social media has increased by 95% since last year.
These are absurd numbers and they reveal a lot about what MLS is striving for. Personally, I believe that MLS could be in for even more gargantuan growth among consumers within the next couple of years and I believe it could one day be the biggest sport in all of America. How so? By mastering social media and getting on the same level with the younger generations, MLS has capitalized on the next generation of viewers. I believe this will have a profound impact on how much attention MLS gets in the coming years and decades. As of now you can ask someone about MLS and there is a good chance they will probably look at you with a funny face and wonder what you are talking about. It’s still on the outside of the major sports waiting to break in. However, as this younger generation grows up and has kids of their own and brings them to soccer games and has them get into it, I think a wholesale shift of media attention across all platforms will change to follow MLS.
This is the power of social media at work, and though MLS might be a small timer among the traditional media platforms, it’s king with the newest and most important platforms for the future. That might end up being all the difference it needs.