The World Cup Bid- A Business Boon to MLS?

The date for FIFA’s announcement of the host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups is just around the corner.  While the economic value of a successful bid to the US and individual cities can be debated, there have been a number of stories addressing the potential business impact to MLS.  Competition between cities to host World Cup matches could lead to significant efforts to curry favor with MLS and SUM. As a result, these franchise may obtain valuable public monies or tax credits towards stadiums, practice fields and more.

Perhaps more importantly, a US World Cup will be an extremely valuable television property.  Exposure to the tournament will generate significant interest among American sports fans, and the time zone compatibility with American audiences will significantly increase viewership.  Ratings for 2010 were exceptional, but prime time matches based in the US following months of lead-in exposure will likely generate enormous amounts of viewers in the US.

Cognizant of these advantages and more, SUM will have enormous bargaining power with the networks for the next round of MLS and World Cup properties.  The current ESPN contract runs through the 2018 World Cup.  However, SUM can leverage a US based tournament with ESPN and other potential network partners to secure significant rights fees and time slots for MLS.  For a great article that provides deep detail addressing this issue, we recommend CNNSI’s Steve Davis’ article here.