Essential Pittsburgh
5:04 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

The Business of Soccer

Rebecca Harris is director of Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship
Rebecca Harris is director of Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship
Credit Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

Arguably the biggest sporting event in the world is currently taking place down in Brazil. The World Cup draws big numbers of television viewers across the planet, making it a great opportunity for companies looking to get their brand in front of a global market. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of soccer.

“It’s a widely viewed sport. It has a cumulative audience, in the 2006 figures that we looked at, 26 billion people watched it over a course of a month, with an estimated 715 million people watching the final match, which is 1/9 of the entire world’s population. When we talk about those numbers, automatically that translates into television advertising, sports apparel sponsorship, infrastructure building in the host country, think about what's been built in Brazil alone, it’s just remarkable. So this really is big business.”

Last Sunday’s USA - Portugal game was the highest-rated in US history- but soccer still remains a distant fifth in popularity behind American football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. Pittsburgh’s own soccer team, the Riverhounds, recently filed for bankruptcy.

But the sport’s local popularity might receive a boost when two premier European teams, Manchester City and AC Milan, play at Heinz Field this July.

“This is a huge coup for the city. Pittsburgh was one of 30 cities that expressed interest in hosting this, so we are really excited that we get it.”