May 23 – The United Soccer League (USL), the recently re-categorised and rapidly expanding Division II professional league in the US, is reporting record attendances for the first nine week of its season.
Crowds are 30% up on 2016 and have broken the 500,000 barrier in total, averaging almost 6,000 per game compared to 4,700 in 2016.
The 30-team league was upgraded by the US Soccer Federation earlier this year to be part of the second tier of US football, alongside the smaller NASL. The USL is now talking about adding a third division of professional football.
“The USL continues to rise by setting new attendance records every week, and driving increased digital engagement across all its platforms,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “Our fans passionately support our teams and increasingly recognize the high level of competition being delivered every week on the pitch, as well as the first-class content being produced by our clubs, our staff and USL Productions.”
Digital engagement and promotion is a key plank in the USL marketing platform, and the USL Digital Network, which provides one website platform for the league, has grown from three clubs to 20 over the past 12 months.
USL Facebook and Twitter platforms have recorded 146 million impressions and more than 1 million engagements on its content thus far in 2017, an increase of 91% and 47%, respectively, over 2016. YouTube viewership for regular-season matches has surpassed 10.5 million minutes through Week 9, a 14% increase from 2016.
Nearly 70,000 fans turned out last weekend, with six teams drawing more than 5,000: FC Cincinnati (18,441), Sacramento Republic FC (11,569, another sellout), Rio Grande Valley FC (7,788, a season high), San Antonio FC (7,414), OKC Energy FC (6,059, a season high) and Reno 1868 FC (5,711, a season high). So far the league has set 11 new attendance records and recorded 12 sell-outs in 2017.
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