This won’t come as a shock to you – soccer isn’t the most popular sport in Australia. After Aussie rules, rugby union and league, and cricket, it may get a shot at exposure. However, mostly, the biggest game in the world doesn’t have much traction Down Under.
For the people running the Australian version of soccer, this is a significant problem because they need viewers to sustain the long-term health of the A-League. The good news is, they seem to have developed a strategy that may lead to success in the future.
Global Sponsorship Deals
The A-League has already tried to connect itself to globally recognizable brands, such as Hyundai. Before the Korean car manufacturer severed ties with the division, it plowed around $90 million into the growth of the league over 15 seasons. That equates to $6 million per year.
Rather than feel sorry for themselves, the people in charge decided to make up for the loss by capturing the signature of Isuzu, the Japanese motoring giant. At $3 to $4 million yearly, the investment is a little lower, yet the hole needed to be plugged. Anyway, the TV rights deal with ViacomCBS means there’s no need to stress about a loss of revenue.
Aside from providing $200 million, ViacomCBS will also make A-League games available to stream on Paramount+. In this age of instant content, the deal should raise awareness of the league across the world, including the US where the growth potential is considerable.
The impact of star power shouldn’t be underestimated. A sport can piggyback off the side-effects, absorbing the publicity as it goes and boosting demand. Look at the examples of Lionel Messi in France and Cristiano Ronaldo in England. The latter, for example, has broken the $200 million mark for shirt sales.
Although the A-League can’t expect those sorts of players, and therefore, those sorts of numbers, it can hedge its bets. Convincing Daniel Sturridge to move to Perth Glory is a prime example as the media coverage is off the charts, with soccer receiving as many column inches as the Ashes or Rugby Championship. The wagering market is another healthy sign since the A-League betting odds have experienced a surge, mainly for Perth Glory as they are now ranked at 8/1 to win the A-League outright. With more wagers placed on the league, there should be a greater number of people watching on TV and in stadiums.
— Isuzu UTE A-League Men (@aleaguemen) June 5, 2014
Of course, the tactic has been used a few times. The signings of Alessandro Del Piero and David Villa spring to mind. This time, though, Sturridge isn’t considered past his prime, giving the competition an extra dimension.
It’s only a small thing, yet it makes a major difference – A-League clubs rarely play more than once a week. In a country where there are Big Bash cricket games, AFL contests, and rugby clashes, it prevents viewers from getting bored.
The last thing the A-League wants to do is jump the gun and end up losing viewers. By keeping fixtures to a minimum, audiences don’t have to choose between soccer and other sports that are traditionally more popular. They can fit both in without any hassle.
After a 14% drop in the ratings reported in March, the A-League had to do something to spice up its offerings. The strategy above will hopefully propel the division onto bigger and better things.