Monday, January 29, 2007

Beckham Coming to America: Hard to Attract Target Audience

During this time of month many Americans are focused on football, two teams, facing off in the gridiron in what is now called the Superbowl. Unlike Superbowls in the past, the coaches are getting more attention than the two teams that are going to battle on the fields. But let us turn our attention away from American football and focus on European football, or soccer as it is known to many Americans. Earlier this month a deal was made between the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer and David Beckham (pictured left), midfielder for the Spanish soccer team Real Madrid. According to the contract, the Galaxy offered Beckham $250 million to play for the team for five years. This amount of money and the current status of the MLS make this deal absurd to the avid American sports fan. The confusing part of the contract is how a player that plays in a league that the majority of Americans do not watch will get paid double the amount of the average American athlete. Why would the Galaxy make this deal?

According to BBC Sport, “the contract is a comprised total of his salary, sponsorship contracts, merchandising shirt sales and a share of the Galaxy’s profits.” The reason why this deal is so lucrative is because he is getting paid nearly double the salary of any existing sports contract. The average athlete that played in the MLS last season received a salary of $100,000 and the D.C. United, a team within the league, sold its entire club for $33 million. One of the reasons why is because the Galaxy, which is owned by AEG (logo featured below) which owns several other MLS teams, wants to hopefully draw fans into a sport that few actually care for in America. The problem that the Galaxy failed to realize is that they got the wrong player for the wrong price. Even though David Beckham is internationally recognized as a premier soccer player he may not be received by the majority of the fans of MLS.

The Galaxy should have done its research before signing the English midfielder to the largest sports contract ever. According to Peter Prengaman of the Boston Globe, “the average attendance for MLS soccer games this past season was 15,504 fans and was slightly higher in cities such as Dallas and Los Angeles which have a high percentage of Hispanics living in them.” The MLS needs to realize that its target market is the Hispanic base. For this reason the Galaxy should have tried to sign a well-known Hispanic soccer player to play for them. Hispanic teams come and play at the Los Angeles Coliseum all the time and consistently draw over 60,000 fans per game. If the Galaxy would have invested there time in finding a Hispanic player to sign, they may have appealed to their target audience more.

But the question still remains, with all the evidence that soccer is a game that many Hispanics in America watch, why sign Beckham? The answer is politics and money. David Beckham is holding a soccer academy at the Home Depot Center, home of the Galaxy and is a person that could be marketed very well because he is good looking and friends with Tom Cruise. He is made for Hollywood. The Galaxy are trying to put themselves on the map as a premier sports club in America by selling itself to Hollywood, hoping that many new fans will embrace the sport of soccer.

Unfortunately, even announcing that Beckham would be joining the Galaxy, the talk on every sports station was not questioning the impact David Beckham will create, but how much money he was signed for. After a few days of discussing the Beckham agreement, the sports nation forgot about the deal and went on discussing the NFL playoffs. Even the largest sports contract in the world can not keep Americans focused on soccer, so why does the Galaxy believe that Beckham will?

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Goose said...
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