Bleacher Report is using the Women's World Cup as a launchpad to reel in brands around soccer
Sunday's US-Chile match earned 5.41m total viewers stateside, making it the most-watched WWC group stage contest in US history, according to Sports Media Watch.
Bleacher Report is propping up soccer as the next big bet for US advertisers
A recent white paper from Bleacher Report, which the digital publisher said it's using as a tool for brands who want to advertise around soccer, seems to back up the rising popularity of the sport in America.
Bleacher Report director Jesse Shaw the company has already brought on "a much greater number" of brands for the WWC than last year's men's tournament, which didn't feature the US team.
Bleacher Report's brand partners for the WWC include Adidas, Nike, Hulu, Umbro, Powerade and AT&T. AT&T owns Bleacher Report through its acquisition of WarnerMedia.
Powerade, for example, cheekily integrated into one of Bleacher Report's key content pillars: power rankings.
"[Brands are saying], 'We want to own these franchise content pieces that you guys have that are tried-and-true to get our messaging out there,'" said Shaw.
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To win future advertisers, Bleacher Report – which is reportedly on track to grow 50% this year and reach $200m in revenue – pooled together its first-party data from its app with a US survey of 2,000 people 13-and-older to track soccer fandom stateside.
The report found that there are 52 million soccer fans in the US, of varying degree. Also, there's 60% overlap between NBA and soccer fans, with Shaw adding that Bleacher Report's base of NBA fans can essentially act as a lookalike audience to its soccer audience.
Shaw added that the company wanted to have its soccer research "buttoned up for this particular time period" to ride the wave of the WWC.
Bleacher Report also found that 63% of soccer fans prefer to watch a full game over highlights and 75% of fans want more options for watching soccer in the future. Also, 40% of soccer fans follow personalities, saying that finding a player they like has made them a bigger fan of the sport.
Shaw said that this study was not done in conjunction with the larger WarnerMedia family, but there will ideally be some audience crossover that could attract brands to Bleacher Report's sister networks.
"There will be residual impact this study has on our wider soccer business that obviously spans across WarnerMedia and Turner Sports. Those same partners we're presenting this to, that we feel should be more invested in [soccer] on the Bleacher Report side, we have that same interest in bringing them to the Turner Sports partners that could be our UEFA partners as well," said Shaw.
Turner Sports owns US broadcast rights for the UEFA Champions League.