Is hockey really more popular than soccer in USA?

Discussion in 'Soccer in the USA' started by Twix1138, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. Twix1138

    Twix1138 Member

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    Judging by the recent NBC tv deal for the EPL games, I have a hard time believing hockey is that far ahead of soccer, or even ahead at all. Here are some comparisons....

    $83 million per year for the EPL tv rights.
    $200 million per year for the NHL tv rights

    While the NHL tv deal is a little more than twice as big, you also have to take into account the following factors...

    1. EPL games usually air early in the morning. NHL airs in prime time. What if it was the other way around?
    2. EPL doesn't have playoffs. And the biggest games for the EPL are usually aired on cable.
    3. Hockey has considerable more commercial time than soccer games.

    Soccer is also followed by a younger demographic and is not as regional as hockey. And this only takes into account the EPL. Soccer also has millions of people who follow international soccer (USMNT, world cup, etc...). Some follow other Euro leagues, Mexican league, MLS, etc...You have multiple soccer events that either rival or exceed the Stanley cup in tv ratings (World cup, Euro, Champions league, etc...).

    The key word here is soccer. Obviously the NHL is worth a lot more than MLS, but is hockey worth more than soccer in this country?


  2. 19kilo

    19kilo New Member

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    I think hockey is worth more financially on a professional level then soccer. Its just they way it is. Im not sure about culturally or participation of youth playing however. Until there is real money for Americans to play professionally here domestically it will never reach into the top 4 sports in the U.S by drawing the best athletes in our country into participation.

    The MLS needs to invest heavily in its product and start bringing in top talent from around the world and lose the designated player rules as well as relaxing some of the domestic player roster rules. Until these things happen I think the MLS has come close to peaking in popularity as well as financially comparatively with the other 4 main pro sports in the states. People just are not going ot be as interested in watching what amounts to a "minor league" team in its respective sport. The EPL WILL NEVER be popular enough to come close to the figures for the major 4 here.
  3. Absolute

    Absolute BigSoccer Supporter

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    The NHL has had to earn it's current popularity over the last 20 years. It's worked very hard at selling the game to areas where it didn't exist, or failed previously. It's been around for a long time, so it's been popular in certain regions for a very long time.

    I think the fact that NBC is willing to pay that much money for a league that really hasn't been accessible to a large part of the US until a decade ago is a good sign, to be honest. And, even then, since it's been on Fox, they still don't have a huge footprint in cable.
  4. Elninho

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    The important thing is to define what we're talking about. It sounds to me like we're talking about soccer generally vs. hockey generally as spectator sports, and not talking about the NHL vs. MLS or the NHL vs. EPL.

    There's a good chance soccer's already ahead. Compared to the NHL, both MLS and the EPL have big disadvantages. I think there are definitely signs that the average member of the public is more interested in watching soccer than watching hockey. (Again, soccer generally and hockey generally, not specific leagues.)

    The OP already mentioned some of the EPL's disadvantages, and there's one more big one: the EPL literally has no geographic footprint in the US. Even with those disadvantages, EPL television rights are apparently worth 40% of NHL television rights.

    Meanwhile, ratings for MLS national broadcasts approach ratings for NHL national broadcasts, despite both having a smaller geographic footprint and not being the world's top league. It's not likely to surpass the NHL's TV contract any time soon, because soccer needs to more than double hockey's TV ratings to generate similar ad revenue for the broadcaster, but if we're looking at pure popularity, soccer's probably already at the same level or a higher level.

    And all that isn't even mentioning the single most popular soccer league in this country, which is Liga MX.
    revolution1776 repped this.


  5. soccersubjectively

    soccersubjectively Let us soccer

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    Uh what viruses are you trying to inflict on my computer?
  6. Cowtown Felipe

    Cowtown Felipe Member

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    The current NHL strike / lockout may do something to severely impact the NHL's popularity. It will still be popular in Boston, New York, Chicago, Detroit, etc. But it may really fade in Dallas, Nashville, Tampa, Phoenix, LA, etc.
  7. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

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    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=559630

    The NHL generates almost $3B in revenues annually. The EPL, off its 2013-2016 TV deal, will take in $83 M/Y in the US. MLS probably brings in ~ $250M in TV, sponsorship and paid attendance. Mexican soccer - both the league and the national team - might rake in another $100M (not counting the World Cup rights).

    In other words, when the (pulverized) rubber meets the road, soccer pales in comparison.
  8. Bclay

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    I don't think using revenue is at all an accurate way to determine popularity. Profitability, sure. But a lot more goes into the profitability of sports than just how popular they are.

    My own personal opinion: soccer is definitely a more popular sport than hockey overall in the US. Of course I'm sure my opinion is a bit biased, but based on what I see people talking about every day and what sports people play, it's not even close.
  9. SUDano

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    Isn't revenue and how much people are willing to spend on a sport a good calculation or how popular it is to the overall masses. What would your definition of popularity be?
  10. Potowmack

    Potowmack Member+

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    Well, seeing as the NHL is currently not playing, it's not surprising that you don't hear too many people talking about it. And what sports people play is heavily regionally-influenced. In places like Boston or Chicago, you're going to see many more games of league and pickup hockey between now and spring than you will soccer games.
  11. Bclay

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    Like I said, it's a biased opinion for sure since it's only from my perspective. I know my location has a lot to do with it. Didn't really mean for my statement to be anything more than what my own perspective is.

    It's one indication, and surely if one sport makes 50k a year whereas another makes 2B, one is probably going to be more popular than the other. But when you take into account factors like: soccer is on at a different time in the day (lot of soccer fans watch foreign soccer), soccer has less time for ads, stadium sizes, the fact that EPL doesn't gain ticket sales from American fans, etc. then you see that popularity of the game isn't the only thing that affects revenue.

    The point I'm trying to make is that because of how some sports are designed and because of the systems that are set up for them, they may make more money than another sport. It could be because the leagues have failed to manage their money as effectively as they should (ie, NFL business execs are better than MLS/EPL execs). It could be because the league format itself is set up poorly, but the sport is just fine and is very popular outside of the league. Or maybe there's multiple leagues vs just the one (definitely the case when talking about hockey vs soccer).

    For an example, if you were trying to determine the popularity of Facebook, would you only look at their revenue to figure out how popular they are?

    Popularity should be based more on how many people watch, how many people play, how often it's talked about, etc. Not how much money the people in charge of the leagues managed to make off that popularity.
    Zoti and Bariaga repped this.
  12. SUDano

    SUDano Member+

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    That's exactly the definition of popularity. Isn't all this correlated with how much money the sport makes. If alot of people, watch, play, talk, attend, support, buy, and every other action possible isn't a logical end to that is to compare revenue streams? Overall right now in US 2012 Hockey is more poplular than soccer. It won't always be that way but right now it is. The best way to judge popularity in a capatistic economy is to judge if someone will pay for it. Larger payouts equal larger popularity. Is Iphone or Samsung more popular smartphones. Add up the dollars.
  13. BocaFan

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    This argument has been repeated many times on BigSoccer. It is totally flawed since it excludes all the regional and local TV deals that the NHL has with stations across the country.
  14. Ironkick14

    Ironkick14 Member+

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    This is not at all true in Chicago. Im not sure about Boston, but definitely not true in Chicago. There are tons of indoor facilities that have games literally 20 hours a day, including many that have open hours for anyone to come and play for free. Don't get me wrong, a lot of hockey is played in the winter (including by me) but soccer is played just as much. And this is in the city where the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup victory parade drew over 3 million people.
    Edit: While the claim that there will be more pickup is true, when talking pickup and league games combined, soccer still wins, and in my experience, wins pretty handily in terms of number of games
  15. Elninho

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    To an extent. But TV works differently. If you have half as many commercial spots in an hour of soccer (and I'm being generous here), it needs to double the ratings of another sport to earn the same TV revenue.
  16. Bclay

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    Like I said, of course if something is more popular, it stands a better chance of having higher profitability. But popularity definitely isn't the only factor, which means you can't look at only revenue as a means of determining popularity.

    You're being way too simplistic in saying popularity = money. This is absolutely not the case. You still have to have a way of turning that popularity into money, and how effective you are in doing that can vary a ton depending on your business plan and the logistics of how your product actually works.

    In your example of Iphone vs Samsung, you definitely do not just "add up the dollars" to determine which is more popular. That's not accurate at all. Maybe Iphone's profit margin is 50%, whereas Samsung's is 25%. Even if the same amount of people use Samsung as Iphone (equal sales, equal popularity), Samsung will have half as much revenue.
  17. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

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  18. Bclay

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    I have no idea what you're trying to say with this, nothing in that article refutes what I said.

    It's not that tough to comprehend that just because I made 50 dollars off my product and you made 25 off yours doesn't mean mine is more popular. I could have sold 5 units of my product at a profit of $10 each, whereas you sold 25 units of yours for a profit of $1 each. 10 people would be using my product, whereas 25 people are using yours. The more popular one is not the same as the one that generated the most revenue.
  19. BocaFan

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    ^Makes sense.

    Unfortunately for soccer in America, the ratings aren't even in the same ballpark as hockey ratings. For e.g. the Flyers local TV ratings are at least 6 times higher than the Union.

    This is further amplified when you consider that the Union only play about 1 match per week. So if you are a Union fan, you can watch every game easily. While even a solid Flyers fan is not likely going to have the time to watch every game (its a 12 hour-per-week investment). Plus the whole issue of Flyers games conflicting with NFL or NBA games that may cause fans to not watch. So there are lots of Flyer fans who aren't even watching on TV.

    Now I know there are lots of soccer fans in Philly that aren't Union fans (also hockey fans that aren't Flyer fans, mind you), but given the magnitude of the difference in my example, logically not near enough to suggest soccer has comparable popularity.
  20. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

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    Well, according to am economic theory espoused above, popularity is equal to market share. Ergo, hockey is more popular than soccer.

    I think you need a course in economics.
  21. Scotty

    Scotty Member+

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    Does anyone know the figures on how ice hockey compares to soccer as far as the number of registered players in youth leagues in the country?
  22. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

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    It's 7.5 hours or 10 hours at a rate of three or four 2.5 hour games per week. It wouldn't reach 12 hours unless the Flyers played five games and/or you watched pregame and postgame shows.
  23. Bclay

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    Regardless of if an economics professor thought my example was correct, I think my main point still is: If you're trying to determine the overall popularity of soccer vs hockey, you should be taking into account more factors than just revenue.
  24. krazymunky

    krazymunky New Member

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    Man City must be very unpopular then, they had losses of £361m last year (£2.3bn in revenue though).
  25. jdgaucho

    jdgaucho Member

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    as the NHL inches closer to cancelling a second full season in the last 10 years, things may change.

    NBC will be extremely hesitant to offer big bucks to the NHL when their contract ends; the NHL's deal may end up being much less, regardless of whoever they sign with.

    Regional networks will be a bit hesitant too, as they have been burned twice in a decade.

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