If it feels like soccer has dominated the sporting world as a global juggernaut in recent years, that’s because it has. With an estimated 3.5 billion fans spanning over 250 countries, soccer, or “football,” is far and above the most popular professional sport in the world. As fan bases grow and the sport garners more collective interest, it’s no wonder that soccer leagues around the globe continue to flourish from both financial and fanatical standpoints.
The rise in soccer’s popularity reached its peak during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where more than 909 million people watched the final game between Germany and Argentina on July 13th. With World Cup fever in the rearview and league seasons hovering around the midway point through mid-November, more than a dozen leagues across the globe have seen exponential growth in sales since 2012. According to sales figures from European ticket reseller Ticketbis, the English Premier League and Italian Serie A League accounted for more than 50% of total sales across 16 international leagues during the 2013-14 season, with the Spanish League attributing nearly 20% of total sales as well. Almost half of Spanish League sales were made internationally that season, the highest among all leagues.
During the 2013-14 season, Premier League tickets owned 32.77% of total sales, marking a 258.23% jump from their 2012-13 season percentage of 22.9%. Such a drastic jump took much of the spotlight off the Italian Serie A League, which dropped from owning 30.84% of total sales during the 2012-13 season to 25.42% in 2013-14. The Spanish League also suffered slightly from the rise of sales in the Premier League, falling from 21.95% of total sales in 2012-13 to 19.17% last season. Despite sales drops in the Italian and Spanish Leagues and higher sales in the Premier League, however, all three make up roughly 77% of total sales across all international leagues.
While the English, Italian and Spanish Leagues comprise the bulk of soccer’s total sales, the fastest growing league in popularity is the German League Bundesliga, whose sales on Ticketbis increased by more than 1400% between the 2012-‘13 and 2013-‘14 seasons. Bundesliga accounted for just 1.26% of total sales in 2012-13 but jumped considerably to own 11.26% of total sales during the 2013-14 season. Germany’s soccer prowess was also exemplified in the 2014 World Cup, where the country went on to defeat Argentina in the Final to earn their fourth World Cup title.
Several other factors come into play when reviewing sales across different leagues, including varying age and sectors of interest based on select countries. The 25-34 age demographic reigns supreme across the bulk of international leagues, but the Argentine League sees the youngest fans on average, with the majority of its viewers ranging in age from 18-34. While the Premier and Spanish Leagues enjoy the bulk of total sales, many of their fans search for work as a collective interest. It is also interesting to note that Italian League fans prefer pop music, French League fans prefer rap, Argentine League fans are most interested in reggaeton and Mexican League fans mostly enjoy Latin music. Film, television and videos also seem to be widespread interests across many soccer leagues.
The continuing rise of soccer’s popularity throughout the world has been apparent over the last two seasons of international play. With sales reaching significant highs in select leagues across the world, it’s only likely that the sport will continue to garner more interest and generate even more global revenue in years to come.