• Andrew Collins

MLS Fever Hits China

Updated: Jun 10, 2019


The MLS season is set to kick off on schedule after a collective bargaining contract was agreed between the players and the league. This year will see some of the biggest football stars heading to America, most notably new arrivals Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, David Villa, and Kaka. Driven by the increased popularity of the MLS around the globe, MLS exposure in China significantly increased with Chinese interest in the league at an all time high. Given that 40% of Chinese fans follow a team because of their star players, the influx of big names has been a major boost in the Far East.

Below are the top five football stars playing in the MLS this season:

Kaka


Club: Orlando City

Sina Weibo Mentions: 3,820,000

Weibo Followers: 754,000

Steven Gerrard


Club: LA Galaxy

Sina Weibo Mentions: 3,312,000

Weibo Followers: N/A

Frank Lampard


Club: New York City

Sina Weibo Mentions: 1,262,000

Weibo Followers: 241,000

David Villa


Club: New York City

Sina Weibo Mentions: 652,000

Weibo Followers: 1,451,000

Clint Dempsey


Club: Seattle Sounders

Sina Weibo Mentions: 569,000

Weibo Followers: N/A

MEDIA EXPOSURE


The MLS’ popularity is bigger than ever, and coverage from the Chinese media is gaining traction. LeTV currently has the broadcasting rights for MLS fixtures and video content, whilst China’s major media networks, including Netease, Tencent and Sina, are increasingly reporting the latest MLS news, a key driver for popularity growth in China.

THE CAHILL EFFECT


Tim Cahill brings a wealth of Premier League experience with him to China, but more recently, success in the MLS, after being named an MLS All-Star and victory in the Eastern Conference Championship with New York Red Bulls. Having joined Shanghai Shenhua for the start of the 2015 CSL season, Tim Cahill will provide a constant reminder to the attraction of the MLS.

With the new season kicking off this weekend, we can expect to see the MLS winning over fans in China and closing the gap on its European rivals.

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