MLS has 20 clubs and plans to add four more by 2020. It has five new sponsors this year, and last year’s World Cup buzz helped them with football awareness in the USA. But, what are the key reasons of MLS expansion and rapid growth?
They see a ‘big picture’, and every move is very well planed. For example, this year they have two new teams, Orlando City and New York City FC, and the main goal is to add four more teams by 2020.
Last season they had average attendance around 19.000 people, and this year it will be even better. New York City FC already sold more than 14.000 season tickets.
This move is really great, it gave MLS the power and modern look. The shape of the new MLS brand takes inspiration from soccer crests, which are a traditional part of the game across the world.
SLASH: The slash refers to soccer’s speed and energy. The slash begins outside the perimeter and drives upward at a 45-degree angle to illustrate both the nonstop nature of our game and the rising trajectory of our league. It bisects the crest to create a “first half” and “second half.”
STARS: The three stars represent the pillars of our brand: For Club, For Country, For Community.
They also created club’s versions of the crest. This is not a replacement for the club brand; instead the new league brand complements and allows the club to be the real hero.
I really like the visuals that they created and are using on all channels from social media, website, TV… Cool way of showing match schedule, it’s much better than what Premier league is doing.
GREAT CONTENT AND INTERACTION
New, modern, user friendly and full-of content web is a big advantage for MLS. They have live coverage, match highlights, discussions, Fantasy game (it’s much more popular then here in Europe), they have great integration with social media content…
It’s also really good to see that they are getting their fans up close & personal with their favorite players… MLS is present on eight social media channels, and they are showing creativity and different content on each channel.
On Tumblr they had a great initiative, they gave young and talented player Ethan White the role of guest blogger. Ethan is an incredibly talented photographer. He used his camera skills all week to give fans a behind-the-lens look at life on the road during the MLS preseason.
Can you imagine a situation in which Premier League or Primera gives any player to write a blog or take ‘behind the scene’ pictures? It would be awesome, and many people would read it every day.
I also like the way they are presenting match schedule to the fans. They write it on the website and give all information about game – what channel is the game on, can they watch it online etc.
They interact with fans and share their content on the web, and you can see example of this from the opening weekend when they invited fans to send them pictures with their pregame rituals. This gave additional value for fans and for the league, it’s a win – win situation.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 7, 2015
On Instagram you can see all ‘behind the scene’ content, something that every one of us likes to see.
Snapchat is a trend, and they are trying to use it as much as they can. Ten clubs already have Snapchat, and some players are also active. This is a great way to get closer to the Millennials as fans. It’s even better to see that they have unlimited access to all players, and they can create content nobody else can, and do whatever they want with it.
They use Twitter really well, better than any other football league in the world. You can see all result changes immediately, they retweet other clubs, they interact with fans and players, they put Vines from the game… yes, they have great advantage in that clubs know how to create content, but other leagues also have this and they don’t do it that impressive.
In the buildup to the start of the MLS season, FOX Soccer and Facebook combined to map out the distribution of supporters across the United States and Canada. MLS Cup holders LA Galaxy are the favorite team in 15 states, more than any other team. In addition to their expected superiority in the Southwest, the Galaxy also performed well in the Southeast (a clean sweep from North Carolina through Louisiana) and the Upper Midwest (Michigan and Minnesota). The extent of their support largely stems from the inroads made during the David Beckham era. Below you can see the graphical representations of those findings, based on data collected in October 2014.
What do you think, which club is (based on this) most popular in Europe? I would like to know this, and I suppose you would too. This little detail shows why MLS is better than any other football federation in Europe (in creating content).
Facebook page is reserved mostly for video content: match previews, goals from the games and full highlights. They adapted their strategy based on Facebook reach, and video has the best reach.
MLS created a simple and powerful concept. On every social media they have different and unique content, and you can see everything together on a website which is great integration of social media content, news, video highlights and previews and discussions. This is something that will be followed and copied all around the world in the next years.
TV RIGHTS AND EXPANSION
Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer have signed new television and media rights partnerships with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision Deportes, reaching eight-year agreements with the networks to televise MLS and U.S. Soccer matches in the United States through the end of 2022.
Three days ago Major League Soccer and Eurosport announced a four-year agreement for Eurosport to air MLS matches in all of Eurosport’s European territories (except the United Kingdom).
That means they will broadcast they program on four televisions and livestream. This expansion, rebranding and content marketing helped MLS to land a new sponsor, Audi.
TV rights are important for the future sponsorships, and the example of Audi confirmed this. I think that MLS has a great potential to grow with this marketing strategy and the ‘big picture’ that they have. It will be interesting to see a response from the European leagues and federations.
What do you thing about this article? Are they on the right track to became on of the best football leagues in the world? What do you like the most? What would you recommend them to became even better?
PHOTO: Fox soccer / Facebook