In a study conducted by a pair of German sports economists at the University of Tübingen, the popularity of European soccer clubs has grown at a rapid rate in America since the 1994 World Cup hosted in the U.S. Analyzing the interest of U.S. citizens in European soccer competitions and Major League Soccer (MLS), professor Tim Pawlowski and Georgios Nalbantis focused on several factors affecting the demand for televised soccer games. As reported on the Science Daily website sciencedaily.com, the pair of researchers was able to arrive with a ranking of the most popular international soccer competitions for the American TV audience. Some of the results are eye opening.
For instance viewership for regular English Premier League games now exceeds viewers watching regular season NHL games. However, ratings continue to lag behind the other big three professional sports — football, baseball, and basketball. The study also determined that people living in a city with an MLS franchise and people in younger demographics held more interest in international soccer competitions than other sports fans. The study also proved the most popular clubs in the country are Manchester United and Chelsea FC of the English Premier League, and FC Barcelona and Real Madrid of the Spanish La Liga.