Bringing the World's Greatest Game to America


World Cup USA

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Football, Futbol or Soccer (depending on where you live), is the most popular sport in the world.  Well... everywhere but here in the United States.  But that could soon change.  Soccer has been on the rise in the United States for quite some time.  With the 2014 World Cup viewership, some say that soccer is now America's 2nd most popular sport.  Many people who never watched soccer before, are now tweeting results from the World Cup final.  This shift in American attitudes towards the sport can be a huge opportunity for ESPN.

Why is this important?  Well, viewership in the USA is up 96% since the 2006 World Cup.  Both Facebook and Twitter broke records after the 2014 World Cup Final game where Germany beat Argentina 1-0.  The Internet is just buzzing today with World Cup news.


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  ABC, ESPN and Univision scored big time with the world cup this year.  Over 17 million people in the USA watched the World Cup final yesterday!  That is the most ever to watch a World Cup final, and the 3rd most watched soccer game ever in the USA (behind this year's USA vs. Portugal game and the USA Women's World Cup final win in 1999).

ESPN, who in the pass did not cover much soccer, has now jumped on-board.  ESPN FC, is a website and TV program, now dedicated to soccer.  The distribution of the show was mainly online, however with the success of this World Cup it could grow even more.

ESPN (and their parent companies, The Walt Disney Company and Hearst Corporation) have a unique opportunity to play off the success of the World Cup.  They have already started with on-air promotions for Major League Soccer games (MLS) that aired during the last 4 games of the world cup.  Creating an online marketing campaign around soccer interest in the USA would be the next major step.

When consumers want anything today, "...their first reaction is 'let me search online for it'" (Cole, Mehraban p.188).  We want that search to take them directly to ESPN.


Big Idea:

         The "Birth of Soccer Culture" in the USA

Soccer Fans

   photo credit: ::: M @ X ::: via photopin cc


Existing Soccer Fans (Fanatics) (Persona #1)

New Soccer Fans (Passionate) (Persona #2)

Newly Introduced to the Sport by The World Cup (Learners) (Persona #3)


  Budgets for online campaigns can range from very little to millions of dollars. I found this article helpful for budgeting purposes.  Since this is ESPN and  it is a national campaign, using the article numbers, we are probably looking at $500,000-$1,000,000.  Prices will vary with content production.  If we  are creating a lot of video content, that would be more expensive than hiring a full time blogger.



4-years.  That is the time until the next world cup.  That gives us time for the big push for the next round of big viewership increases.  We want to push the campaign through the regular seasons for MLS, USA National games and create even more excitement for the World Cup in 2018.

  Expected Goals

Rise in viewership of MLS games on ESPN/ABC networks

Rise in interest in Soccer (in and out of the USA)


  Google Analytics

All content will be tracked by Google Analytics to see what is successful and what is not.  This will allow us to make constant changes on the fly.   FBGAT - Facebook Google Analytics could also work great for our Facebook Fan Page 

Landing Pages

Different Landing pages for different searches, shows, SEO terms and PPC ads.  Those landing pages will be measured to see online trends and audiences interests.


Team up with MLS clubs to add their links to our pages.  Record and analyze ticket sales at the club level.  Analyze sales at the official team stores for t-shirt and merchandise sales.


Measurement of Twitter/Facebook likes

Video Plays

Online videos on and ESPNFC.  Measure all plays to see what people are watching and what they are interested in.

How will we know it is a success?

Increase in online viewership to our programs, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and ESPN websites.  More MLS website visits and purchases. 



VIDEO -  Soccer is visual sport.  We need to be "the place to go" to find the best goals of last week.  We don't want to use audio podcast to describe the game, we want as much video as possible.  We want to make sure that we are the leaders in video content of all highlights.  People will come to us  to find video of their favorite team, or the game they missed.  We need to make sure that we focus our SEO efforts on these videos so they are found  easily when people are looking for them.

  SEO - Identify keywords.  We need to make sure that we own Soccer.  The USA is one of the only countries that calls the game "Soccer".  We want to focus on that keyword.  "USA Soccer", "ESPN Soccer", "Soccer Highlights", "Soccer Video" would also be wise choices. SEO Keyword techniques in every page/Blog.  On Page SEO, Title tags, Meta descriptions, Headings, URLs/Domains, and inside the content itself!

  PPC -We will start off with creating 2-3 Ads using Google AdWords.  The ads will be aimed at our different buying personas to see which one best performs.  We could promote content, news items and stories that will likely be pass on to others.  The PPC's will direct to a specific landing page that  will have one action that the user will perform.  The action could be signing up for a promotion, becoming a fan of a team, liking our fan page, etc.  All   actions will be monitored to show the performance of each.  This will be measured to our overall goals.      

Landing Pages -   Different Landing pages for different searches, shows, SEO terms and PPC ads.  Those landing pages will be measured to see online trends and audiences interests.


Social media pic

photo credit: mkhmarketing via photopin cc


First, we need to move away from persuasion and move towards a dialogue with our audience. We need to solve their problems. We need to focus on out audience.  Some people like to read, other people want photos and others want to watch video.  "It's worth having your message in different formats" (Scott, p.216).  People do not want to be sold to.  They want to find the content that they are looking for.  There are thousands of soccer programs all around the country.  Many young people are getting into the sport and their parents go to their kids games all of the time.  We need the World Cup excitement, Youth sports and soccer moms to all come together.  We want to focus our social media on our 3 buying personas.  We need to create content that is helpful for all 3 personas:

1.) "The Fanatic" - These people are just great.  "The Fanatics" will be the first ones to share our content with all of their friends.  They just can't get enough information about the sport.  We need to drive them to our content.  These fans will comment on blogs and share content.  They can also help the "New but Passionate" and "Learning" consumers through social media.  "The Fanatics" want people to enjoy the game, they want soccer in the  USA to succeed.  They are invested in the sport.  We need to make sure they are happy!  These fans will lead the way in the Culture of US Soccer.  Lets make them feel like leaders!

2.) "New but Passionate" - Like the fanatics, these people are passionate about the sport.  This may be from the recent World Cup success.  We  have to cary over the excitement of the World Cup into the club leagues.  We need to give them the content they want so they become passionate   about a club team, just like they were for the national team.  This may be a good way to link the USA players back to their club teams.  

3.) "Learning" - We need to create content that can help educate this persona about the game.  Many comments that I saw online during the World  Cup said "Watching the World Cup, I dont understand any of the rules...but I'm watching".  We need to have resources available for people to learn   about the game.  We need on online dialogue that will help these individuals enjoy the game experience.



photo credit: Folk Media via photopin cc


We need people to come and visit us online.  The best way to do that is to create valuable content for the users.  That content will also drive our organic SEO, wich will help our audience find us on search engines.  But we need to have compelling content that our audience will want to consume and share with others.

Create Blogs

All of our reporters, anchors, producers, and others involved in the soccer broadcasts, should keep an updated blog as part of their job.  Lets show the behind the scenes of the game, but also of the broadcast.  Viewers will be interested in seeing what goes into broadcasting the games.  Focus on our SEO terms when all of our employees blog about the game.  This will allow our content to come up first anytime someone Googles soccer!  Lets be a leader.  Reach out to existing bloggers.  Lets share blogs on each other's sites.  Lets allow some of the bigger "Soccer Bloggers" access into ESPN's studios, remote locations and games.  They have an existing relationship with soccer fans.  Lets facilitate their blogging and get ours mentioned to their audience.


We all know how important it is to have an online presence.  But I think there is a lot of possibilities using facebook and twitter to have a dialogue about the sport.  Facebook is the big kid on the block.  "With more than a billion users worldwide, if Facebook was a country it would be third on the population list" (Cole, Mehraban p. 61).  We can't ignore this size of an audience.  The world cup brought record numbers to Facebook and twitter in 2014.  This must be a focus of our efforts.  Fans take Facebook and Twitter everywhere.  They have the apps on their phones.  Lets use this to our advantage.  Can we target fans that are in the crowd at the games? Live tweet with them?  Could we get people in the crowd to chat with people who are at home on their couch?  This could be a great way to develop not only a conversation between the broadcast and the fans, but also between the fans themselves.  Lets be the leader in that dialogue.  Lets build a community around the sport, the fans, and the way they watch the games (Through ESPN/ABC). 

Create a "Fan page" for our programs.  Make sure we have an ESPN/ABC employee part fo that fan page and engaged in the conversation.  We don't want to sell anything here, but we do want to provide information that people want (What time games are on in what city, what content is available, etc).

Google +

Google + is still very new.  But lest use it to our advantage.  Posting our Blog and Web content to Google + will help us rank higher in web searches.  We can use existing content from our blogs, facebook, twitter pages.  This "online cross promotion" will help our SEO.  David Meerman Scott's States, "The trick to benefiting from any new medium is... participate in it (The New Rules of Marketing and PR, p.278).  We need to be part of this new medium and not just try to take advantage of it. 


photo credit: Werner Kunz via photopin cc   


Soccer is the biggest sport in the world.  The sport has never been very popular in the USA, until now.  The World Cup in 2014 has caught America's attention.  We need to ride that wave into the US soccer program.  To create excitement for soccer in the USA, we need to creat content that people want to consume.  We need those people to be able to find that content easily by doing a web search.  277 million people in the USA use the internet.  This is how we get our information.  Our audience is searching for content, we need to provide them with what they are looking for.  We also need to be found when they search for it.  We need to be a leader in this area.  That will make ESPN successful in finally bringing the "World Game" to the USA.