MLS Turns to eSports to Help Build Excitement
As Major League Soccer deals with their first-ever stoppage of play due to the coronavirus pandemic, clubs have turned to esports, and the popularity of the video game FIFA 20, to continue their outreach to fans and build excitement for when soccer returns.
How Nashville SC Uses FIFA 20 to Reach Fans
For expansion teams such as Nashville SC, the halted season could not have come at a worse time as the team’s ownership hoped to exploit the opening of the season to draw interest to the new game in town.
With only hockey as their main competition in the spring, Nashville’s new soccer club spent more on marketing and outreach to showcase the game to the hometown.
But once the coronavirus pandemic suspended the season, the club’s promotional department switched gears and turned to a popular video game to help introduce fans to the team’s players and maintain the excitement around the club.
To understand the popularity of FIFA 20 in America, it is helpful to know that during the first month of release over 10 million people played the video game.
In comparison, Major League Soccer rarely draws over one million people to watch a televised game.
With soccer suspended, teams like Nashville SC, are utilizing their sponsored FIFA 20 player, Cormac “Doolsta” Dooley, to play streamed games against other clubs’ esports players.
“The fans really want to see Nashville be involved with soccer, albeit if that means esports,” Doolsta said. “They want to see me play a bit. (Nashville SC) are looking at me to push out content since I’m in the best position to produce it.”
eMLS Cup Champion!!!!!!!!!!!
3/3 tournaments I have won this year in the eMLS and this is the perfect way to round off the season???
— Cormac Dooley (@doolsta) March 31, 2019
How MLS Uses FIFA 20 to Attract Young Fans
Nashville SC isn’t the only club that is using the video game to promote its teams as many other clubs in MLS have been using FIFA 20 for a few years now to market their best players.
Teams such as the New England Revolution are live streaming the FIFA games and producing pre and post-game shows with a highlight package they distribute on social media after the virtual games are played.
For marketing officials, like the Revolution’s Cathal Conlon, the job rests on their shoulders to continue to keep the club in the hearts and minds of soccer fans as they face the unprecedented era created by the coronavirus.
“There is a little bit of making it up as you go along,” Conlon said. “We had to think about the service we provide to our fans. We’re a sports team. Sports have always been a relief and a distraction from the news cycle. We wanted to find a way to provide an outlet for our fans but without doing anything that was disrespectful. (We’re telling fans) at 1:30 on Sunday, you should have been with the Revs, and we’re going to give you that opportunity to do so if you want.”
Fans have responded to the club’s lead and held tournaments while following the team’s scheduled games in real-time.
The tournaments have attracted actual MLS players looking to cut the boredom, adding another element of attraction as the league hopes to weather the storm of the coronavirus.
How many copies of FIFA are sold every year?
Every year over 20 million copies of FIFA are sold on all consoles.
How many expansion teams will MLS welcome in the next three years?
The league plans to bring in six expansion teams over the next three years.
Who has won the most MLS titles?
LA Galaxy have won five MLS Cup titles to lead the league in all-time championships.