Around the globe, few things are as ubiquitous as the sport of fútbol, le foot, calcio, or, as it’s called in the U.S., soccer.
While Americans have their own special moniker for it, the sport has certainly made its own imprint in the U.S. Soccer’s influence and power in the world of televised sports is no exception. Behind this driving force are U.S. Hispanic viewers, whose consumption habits give televised soccer a unique and powerful profile.
So what does that profile look like?
Sports viewership typically varies by race and ethnicity, and for soccer, U.S. Hispanic viewers accounted for the vast majority of viewership in 2017. In fact, Hispanics accounted for an overwhelming 68% of soccer’s viewership during the year, compared to about 12% of viewership to all sports. Over 97 million people watched at least six minutes of a soccer match last year, and over 32 million of them were Hispanic.
When looking at Hispanic TV homes in the U.S. exclusively, about 61% of their residents have watched at least six minutes of a soccer game—more than any other race or ethnicity.
The 61% reach percentage is nearly double that of the U.S. overall percentage. But soccer doesn’t just appeal to Hispanic viewers. In 2017, at least a quarter of all measured races/ethnicities watched soccer, including 30% of African-American viewers and 25% of Asian-American viewers.
Looking deeper into the Hispanic soccer viewer reveals a unique profile—they’re younger than non-Hispanic viewers and Spanish-language dominant.
The compositional breakdown of soccer’s audience reveals that 42% of Hispanic soccer viewers are under the age of 35, compared to 31% of non-Hispanic viewers. Of these young viewers, over a quarter of them are within the key buying demographic (18-34). Moreover, 16% of them are in the 2-17 demo—a group vital to growth and long-term sustainability. For non-Hispanics, about 10% of viewership stemmed from the 2-17 demo.
While soccer attracts a growing and increasingly influential demographic in Hispanics, what may be most intriguing about its viewership is its ability to attract a specific, yet sizeable subset of the demo: Spanish-language dominant Hispanics.
Within the Hispanic homes that watch soccer matches, a whopping 82% of the audience speaks Spanish as their dominant language, whereas only 13% speak English as their main language.
Notably, Spanish-dominant viewers have seemingly had a large impact on how and where soccer matches are viewed. Of all persons watching the matches, one-third of its gross minutes are viewed on English-language networks, whereas the other two-thirds are spent on Spanish-language networks.
While a large audience of Spanish-speaking viewers may evidently correlate with increased viewing to Spanish-language networks, what might easily be overlooked is the contribution from English-speaking viewers. Hispanic viewers who speak only English spent a majority of their soccer viewing time via English-language networks—but not by much.
About 40% of their soccer viewing was done on Spanish language networks, a sizeable portion considering the language difference. When looking at Hispanic viewers who speak mostly English, the share of their soccer viewing on Spanish-language networks ballooned to 83%. In essence, Spanish-language networks reached their main audience by televising soccer matches, but with the added benefit of bringing in adjacent English-speaking crowds as well.
Soccer, as it seems, successfully crosses language barriers in U.S. television programming and can bring advertisers closer to the booming Hispanic demographic, no matter what their language preference.
Universe Estimates (000): Composite: 304,500. Hispanic: 53,159. Non-Hisp White: 190,838. Non-Hisp Black: 38,639. Non-Hisp Asian (Non-Black, Non-White): 13,271. Non-Hisp Other (Non-Asian): 5,694.
The insights in this article were derived from the following source:
- Nielsen NPower Program Report, Dec. 26, 2016 – Dec. 31, 2017. Based on live soccer games live+7. Repeats, programs <10 minutes and sustainers have been excluded. All programs based on sports event summary type codes. Reach and frequency based on 6+ minute qualifier.