Soccer in the U.S. has not always had the best track record. Its popularity fluctuates, and interest is usually tied to significant events, such as the World Cup or the Olympics.
Major League Soccer has spent more than 25 years trying to change the sentiment toward soccer in the U.S. while competing with more fast-paced, high-scoring sports such as the NFL and the NBA.
Over the last 10 years, the MLS has become increasingly popular. The league garnered the attention of top international talent, brought in significant investments and generated a massive presence on social media.
The MLS is focused on expanding its clubs to large sports markets and increasing popularity with younger generations. Nevertheless, the league has seen its fair share of obstacles, such as financial woes, leadership shakeups and its continuous fight to draw a large television audience.
Get Southern California news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC LA newsletters.
Establishing a massive television audience is everything to the league. Media rights deals are a cornerstone of how a league functions and the driving force for its longevity, growth and operational revenue. The league is looking to establish a new media rights package in 2022. Its current eight-year media deal with ESPN, Fox and Univision has generated an estimated $90 million per year since 2015.
The league hopes to capitalize on its younger fan base, social media presence and the FIFA World Cup, which the U.S. will host in 2026.
Watch the video to learn more about the rise of Major League Soccer.