How Does Super Bowl Fare in Comparison With Soccer? $143 Million NFL Presents a Case Study for Global Sports


To non-Americans the “football” does not make sense with respect to the American game. You’re calling it football, but carrying the ball with your hands most of the time? Undeniably, in America, the NFL reigns supreme. So much so, that the Super Bowl is an unofficial national holiday. But with the MLS looking to compete with the NFL and even drawing in Lionel Messi, does the king have a contender to the throne? Well, if not anything, it is certainly making inroads in America.
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And what about the global stage? Even though football is the life and blood of American sports, can the NFL manage to export its thrill and excitement to other countries? And while it may be unfair to compare a global sport to a mostly American sport, the NFL actually has the ability to take on the soccer Goliath.
Which sport draws the most eyeballs and money?
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In America, the NFL is not just a competitor for eyeballs, but it dominates them. In 2022, Super Bowl LVII drew in over 113 million American viewers. The FIFA World Cup 2022 hosted by Qatar, drew an international audience of 1.5 billion, but in America, it only managed to draw a measly 25.8 million viewers.
via Reuters Soccer Football – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Final – Argentina v France – Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar – December 18, 2022 Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates with the trophy after winning the World Cup REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
FIFA decided to move the World Cup to November-December instead of the usual June-July due to Qatar’s sweltering summer. And it knew it was up against tough competition. Not just the NFL, but the World Cup also had to compete against college football, the NBA, and the NHL. According to the Guardian, a recent survey found that only 7% of all US adults identify as avid soccer fans. But a whopping one in three Americans are avid football fans.
Audience translates into dollars. The NFL has staked out a goal to become a $25 billion entity by 2027, according to The Athletic. Speaking of dollars, despite being the international juggernaut that it is, FIFA raked in a revenue of $7.5 billion in 2022. The NFL made more than double that at $18 billion, despite being dominant in only one country. A Super Bowl ad costs an average of $6 – $7 million for a 30-second slot. Whereas the 2018 World Cup Final sold the same slots for $434,707 on average. With North America hosting the World Cup in 2026, can FIFA realistically hope to overthrow the NFL in America?
Will ‘futbol’ overtake football as the dominant American sport?
The NFL has two things going for it that FIFA cannot match. The appeal of homegrown talent and the time of matches. While the GOATs of football are non-Americans, all the best football players, or even basketball players, are from the homeland. The sport attracts fans as much as the greats of the sports do. So unless America produces its own Ronaldo or Messi, Brady, Rodgers, Jordan, and Bryant will continue to dominate American sports discussion.
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The NFL games schedule caters to the convenience of Americans, giving it a time advantage. The WC Final in Qatar was eight hours ahead of the US EST. Besides, there are the halftime shows, with the who’s-who of the music industry performing in the 30-minute interval. Yeah, sure, there is the FIFA anthem. But other than the odd Shakira, not many of the anthem performers are well known. On the other hand, the NFL can boast of performances by Rihanna, Michael Jackson, Shakira, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga… you get it.
via Reuters Football – NFL – Super Bowl LVII – Half-Time Show – State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona, United States – February 12, 2023 Rihanna performs during the halftime show REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The Super Bowl is not going to become the most-watched sporting event on Earth any time soon, but fortunately for football fans, neither is soccer, NBA, or NHL going to oust the NFL from the domestic throne. The NFL is a cultural super force in America, having roots deep in history and tradition. It’s a case study of how a league restricted to just one country continues to wield so much monetary and cultural power. What’s your perspective on this?
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Editorial Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of EssentiallySports.
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