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Huge opportunity for Football in America

Thursday 19th January 2012
Ask any American sports fan what Sunday is to them and they will immediately reply "football". Ask any English sports fan what 4pm on a Sunday is and they will tell you "Super Sunday". This weekend is no different, the NFL plays host to two huge games with the winner of each game making it to the Super Bowl. While in the UK, Arsenal and Manchester United kick off at 4pm. Before the gridiron gets under way American sports fans will have the opportunity to catch Arsenal against Manchester United live on Fox. This is the first time since last season's Champions League Final that football will be shown live on a terrestrial channel.
Typically Premier League games in the US are shown on Fox's sister channel 'Fox Soccer', however, the bosses at Fox have seen interest and viewing figures rise and are willing to give the league a chance to shine in front of a larger audience.

This season Fox has already shown three tape delayed games which each improved on the previous game in terms of viewing figures. Last year's Champions League Final was watched by an estimated 2.6million, a modest number but a number that Fox hope to see rise. During the last World Cup in 2010 the England versus USA game had 17million viewers, attracting a higher audience than the first four games of the NBA Finals did that year.

The challenge for both Fox and the Premier League is to convert the World Cup interest into viewers for the top English league. They will hope that American players such as Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and now Landon Donovan will attract fans to the Premier League instead of other leagues such as Serie A and La Liga. The Premier League certainly has an advantage over these leagues with up to seven games being shown live each week on Fox Soccer and ESPN.

Many challenges remain for football in the US despite its growth in popularity. The sport is not as conducive to advertising as American Football, Basketball and Baseball. These sports bring in huge revenues through sponsorship and ad sales with commercial breaks at least every 10 minutes, something football cannot offer with 45 minutes of continuous play. Yet with the US Soccer Federation signing a deal with NBC to show regular season MLS games on terrestrial television, it does show that interest in the sport is rising.

What the Premier League; US football fans and Fox will be hoping is that Sunday's game between the Premier League giants lives up to its billing. An exciting game with goals, controversy and drama will help continue football's rise in popularity. The question remains, will American "football" fans start their Sunday with Arsenal against Manchester United or New England against Baltimore?

Philip Jacobs

Total articles: 8

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