Select Soccer Will Capitalize on Sport’s Growing Popularity in U.S. – It doesn’t seem to matter what soccer leagues are playing, Americans are simply tuning in in record numbers. Whether it’s Major League Soccer (MLS) here in the United States, World Cup Tournament play, Champions League competition or the Barclay’s English Premiere League it is undeniable that the, once distant, fifth major sport is gaining popularity with American sports fans.

Key U.S. Indicators Signal Growing Interest

A look at the numbers doesn’t lie. Take for example these statistics from this summer’s thrilling FIFA Women’s World Cup final game between the United States and Japan.

  • The U.S. Women’s National Team set a television ratings record during its victory in the final of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup against Japan.
  • The event eclipsed any previous soccer broadcast, men’s or women’s, making the game the most-watched soccer match in U.S. history.
  • The match clocked in at just under 23 million viewers, an increase of 77% compared to the final of the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
  • The top 5 markets for the game included Kansas City, St. Louis, San Diego, Denver and Austin.

SourceUSSoccer.com and Fox Sports

  • The 2010 and 2014 World Cup finals gathered 24.3 million and 26.5 million U.S. viewers, respectively — with an additional 9.2 million people viewing the 2014 final in Spanish on Univision.

Sourcefivethirtyeight.com

Even the domestic market for Major League Soccer here in the U.S. is seeing a growing audience as these numbers suggest.

  • ESPN2’s Sunday evening broadcasts have averaged 283,000 viewers per game in 2015, representing an 18% increase over 2014.
  • Fox Sports One saw its 2015 MLS per-game average audience increase by 54% versus comparable 2014 numbers

Growing Audience Presents New Revenue Opportunities

Over the last couple of years, trading card manufactures Topps and Panini have sought to capitalize on this growing interest by creating products geared to soccer fans and collectors. Much like hockey, soccer collectors are a passionate group that appreciate unique content, themed designs and autographs of the game’s biggest stars.

Several soccer trading card sets are planned for release in the coming year. One such product that will garner international interest is Select Soccer from Panini America.  Scheduled for release on Wednesday, December 16th. 2015 Select Soccer Trading Cards delivers (3) Autographed or Memorabilia Cards (8) Prizm Parallels, (4) Inserts and (1) Variation in Every Box! Select Soccer will feature Panini’s first Player-Worn Memorabilia Cards of some of the world’s best players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr. and MANY more!

If you personally have never heard of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, they are considered by many to be the modern day equivalent of superheros as indicated by this Google Trends graphic.

Messi Ronaldo and Batman

The fact that Select Soccer will have autographs and player worn memorabilia from this tandem bodes well for the product’s success. In addition, look for autographs and/or memorabilia cards from the following players: Neymar Jr., Yaya Toure, James Rodriguez, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Ramos, Mats Hummels, Mesut Oezil, Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Franz Beckenbauer, Roberto Baggio, Michael Ballack, Alan Shearer, Oliver Kahn, Christian Vieri and MANY more!

Collector’s Respond With $’s

So how does all of this statistical data translate into collector interest? A look at secondary market pricing and recently completed eBay auctions provides some insight to how collectors are responding to this growing niche market.

2014 Panini Prizm World Cup featured many of the same players that will be in the upcoming Select Soccer release. This auction closed on October 5th, 2015 with 53 bids. The lot featured 11 autographed cards and realized a price of $355. Interesting to note is that only one major name was included, showing an overall value for all players.

How about a non-autographed or memorabilia lot selling for $70? This group of 2014 Panini World Cup Prizm cards did just that on November 14th of this year.

Prizms 2014 Panini World Cup

These sample results are tame, now are you ready for some genuinely crazy prices?!?

2014 Panini Prizm FIFA World Cup Auto Autograph Signature 61 Cards Lot – $1,682.49

2014 Panini World Cup Prizm Cristiano Ronaldo Pepe Combo Autograph Auto – $1,375.13

2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Cristiano Ronaldo Autograph BGS 9.5/10 – $1,313

2015 Panini Donruss Soccer Cristiano Ronaldo Gareth Bale Dual Autograph – $1,200

2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Soccer Autograph #CR Cristiano Ronaldo – $1,050

Cristiano Ronaldo 2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Autograph Signature – $995

2015 Panini Donruss Soccer Cristiano Ronaldo Gareth Bale Dual Autograph – $999.99

And the list just goes on and on. See for yourself.

Select Soccer Will Capitalize on Sport’s Growing Popularity in U.S. – eBay Sales Gallery

If the performance of recent Panini America soccer trading card releases like 2014 Prizm World Cup and 2015 Donruss Soccer are any indication, 2015 Select Soccer has all the makings of an official blockbuster.

Select Soccer Will Capitalize on Sport’s Growing Popularity in U.S. – Image Gallery

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