YPulse recently released a list of the top 20 coolest brands according to college students. One thing we noticed while perusing their list is that many are brands with significant involvement in soccer. From OTT platforms to apparel and gaming to soft drinks, many cool brands have turned toward soccer thanks to its younger, more diverse audiences.
As you continue scrolling, we highlight some of these cool brands and their ties to soccer.
Additional insight: 12% of fans are between the ages of 18-22 – traditional ages for undergraduate students – according to a national survey of soccer fans we conducted in November 2023.
Apple, Amazon, Netflix
Three of the biggest streaming platforms are no strangers to soccer and soccer fans are no stranger to these platforms. Whether it’s a docuseries or live streaming of a domestic soccer league, all three platforms provide fans ways to connect to the sport.
Additional insight: According to our November 2023 survey, 60% of soccer fan households have active subscriptions to Netflix, while 51% and 26% have active Amazon Prime Video and AppleTV+ subscriptions, respectively.
Apple’s inclusion on the list of most popular brands among college students isn’t surprising. In fact, the Apple operating system can be found on 61% of mobile devices in the U.S. One of the biggest companies in the world based on market capitalization, Apple’s soccer relationship is more nascent, buoyed by their deal with Major League Soccer.
In 2022, Apple announced its 10-year, $2.5 billion streaming partnership with MLS – a substantial commitment to and investment in North American soccer. The 2023 season saw the launch of MLS Season Pass, a standalone subscription allowing fans to stream league games and without any viewership blackouts. Subscribers also have access to shoulder content.
While subscription numbers have never been formally shared, they jumped significantly with the arrival of Lionel Messi last summer. Apple also created a six-part docuseries showcasing a behind-the-scenes look at his arrival and first season with Inter Miami. You can stream Messi Meets America on AppleTV+.
Soccer Industry Storylines in 2024
From Copa América to women’s soccer expansion, there’s plenty to be excited by in the year ahead. Check out some of our top soccer industry storylines to keep an eye on in 2024.
For years now, Prime Video has created several original soccer documentaries, most notable of which is the All or Nothing series that has featured behind-the-season looks at Arsenal, Manchester City, and Tottenham seasons. Other Prime Video soccer documentaries and docuseries include Inside Borussia Dortmund and We Are Newcastle United.
New for 2024, however, is Amazon’s arrival in the live soccer streaming space. Ahead of the 2024 NWSL season, the league signed a deal with Amazon that sees Prime Video stream 27 games, including a Friday night ‘Game of the Week,’ opening kickoff game, and a quarterfinal game in the playoffs.
Netflix is also no stranger to soccer documentaries. Their roster includes, Under Pressure: The U.S. Women’s World Cup Team, Neymar: The Perfect Chaos, Sunderland ‘Til I Die, and more.
The most notable Netflix soccer docuseries, at least recently, is Beckham, which includes this clip that went viral beyond the soccer bubble thanks to the couple’s global notoriety.
Coca-Cola has long had a connection to soccer. In fact, the company is one of FIFA’s longest-standing partners, with a formal association beginning in the 1974 and an official partnership beginning with the 1978 FIFA Men’s World Cup. Long-time fans of the sport and the Men’s World Cup will have seen Coca-Cola advertising in stadiums at the FIFA Men’s World Cup since 1950.
Additional insight: in our 2022-23 United States of Soccer report, Coca-Cola was the most mentioned brand when we asked soccer fans to share non-apparel brands they most associate with soccer.
Closer to home, the Coca-Cola Company entered a long-term partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation in July 2023. The Official Soft Drink of the Federation is also a Founding Partner of U.S. Soccer’s new training facility in metro Atlanta, which is also the home of the Coca-Cola Company.
In 2016, then-Nike-athlete Neymar and Jordan Brand collaborated to debut the first-ever Jordan soccer cleat. Since then, the brand’s presence in the sport has only increased, most notably through its jersey supply partnership with French club, Paris Saint-Germain. What began as a three-year partnership in 2018, the pair have since released not only the club’s jersey for each season, but also many sought-after capsule collections.
In late-2023, The Athletic wrote in great depth how the Jordan Brand helped transform PSG from a soccer club to a global brand. It’s worth a read if you have a subscription.
Just last week, PSG and Jordan Brand released the fourth jerseys for the 2023-24 season.
National Basketball Association
The NBA’s soccer connection is perhaps less formal and comes more informally via its players, many of whom are from countries other than the U.S. In fact, heading into the 2023-24 season, the league shared they have players from 40 different countries and territories. As a result, there’s a lot of soccer crossover between players, teams, and the league.
Additional insight: Among soccer fans, basketball is the third most-popular sport behind soccer and American football, according to our 2022-23 United States of Soccer report. For Gen Z soccer fans, basketball ranks second behind soccer, hinting at the crossover marketing opportunity targeted toward younger fans.
There are plenty of examples on social media of NBA players visiting their favorite teams abroad or soccer teams visiting NBA team facilities while on preseason tours in the U.S.
Some NBA players have taken it a step further and invested in the sport. James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are great examples of this with each having minority ownership of the Houston Dynamo, Philadelphia Union, and Nashville SC, respectively.
Nike’s involvement in soccer began in the early 1970s when the company introduced their first-ever cleat. In the early 1980s, they signed their first star player in Aston Villa’s Ian Rush and their first-ever team deal with Sunderland FC. Fast forward to the early 1990s and Nike signed Mia Hamm as their first women’s player and a few years later Nike began their partnership with the Brazilian Football Confederation.
Fast forward to now and Nike is the jersey supplier for many of the world’s top National Teams and Club Teams, from Brazil, England, and the United States to FC Barcelona, Chelsea FC, and Liverpool FC. They are also the official ball supplier to the Premier League.
Additional insight: 37% of soccer fans say Nike is the apparel brand they most associate with soccer – the most of any brand, per our November 2023 survey.
From Joga Bonito to Write the Future, Nike has also created some of the most memorable marketing campaigns over the past two decades.
If you add up the number of PlayStation consoles, regardless of generation, sold since the original’s debut in 1994, over 512 million PlayStations have been purchased. Among the more popular sports video games played on PlayStation is, of course, FIFA – now known as EA Sports FC. In year’s past, PlayStation was the official platform for Major League Soccer’s Esports competition, eMLS.
Additional insight: 61% of soccer fans most frequently play soccer video games on PlayStation, according our November 2023 survey.
Among the list of coolest brands for college students are two social platforms – YouTube and Instagram. Collectively, their impact in helping current fans become more educated or new fans enter the fandom funnel cannot be understated.
Additional insight: Per our 2022-23 United States of Soccer report, 41% of fans said YouTube is their top social platform for soccer news and updates – the highest percentage for any platform. Instagram was third with 19% of fans selecting it as their top platform.
Whether it’s for game highlights, behind-the-scenes content, or player and coach interviews, soccer fans flock to social platforms like YouTube and Instagram to get their fix. In fact, 56% of all soccer fans and 66% of the most hardcore soccer fans turn to social media for soccer news and updates, according to a national soccer fan survey we conducted in November 2023.
While the content types referenced above are more traditional and come from official sources, don’t sleep on user-generated content like reaction videos. This content is introducing new fans and their followers to the sport and some of its best player.