TITLE

Consumer Differences Across Large and Small Market Teams in the National Professional Soccer League

AUTHOR(S)
Robinson, Matthew J.; DeSchriver, Timothy D.
PUB. DATE
June 2003
SOURCE
Sport Marketing Quarterly;2003, Vol. 12 Issue 2, p80
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
In comparison to major sports leagues, there is a large variation in market size within minor league sports. The purpose of this study was to determine if the variation in market size across minor league teams resulted in differences for selected consumer characteristics. The consumer characteristics examined were demographic composition, spectator loyalty/affiliation, and market competition. Spectator data were collected from two teams in the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL), a minor indoor soccer league. Statistical results revealed significant differences between consumers of large and small market franchises. Small market spectators were more likely to purchase season tickets and attended a greater number of games in both the current and previous seasons. With respect to demo- graphic characteristics, there were significant differences in age and income between consumers in the two markets. There was also a statistically significant difference between spectator groups regarding their attendance of other sporting events. In most discussions of professional sport, the frame of reference is the four major professional sport leagues: the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB). Each league has seen increases in the number of teams, franchise valuations, and team revenues over the past 20 years. With the growth of the four major sport leagues, there has also been tremendous growth in the number of leagues, teams and spectators in minor league professional sports in North America over the past two decades. However, there is some variation in the definition of minor league. For example, professional leagues in sports such as indoor soccer (National Professional Soccer League [NPSL]); tennis (World Team Tennis [WTT]); and indoor lacrosse (National Lacrosse League [NLL]) offer the highest level of competition in the respective sports but still were classified as minor leagues by Masteralexis (1998). Masteralexis' rationale (1998) can be found in Johnson's (1995) characteristics. these leagues have lower attendance, draw fans from a close proximity, and pay lower salaries. They also receive limited media exposure, do not possess a national television contract, have smaller financial budgets and, in some instances, play in smaller facilities. This study uses a similar definition of a minor league. Johnson (1995) reported that minor league baseball has teams in over 200 communities in North America. Masteralexis (1998) reported there were 661 minor league teams in baseball, softball, basketball, football, arena football, ice hockey, indoor and outdoor soccer, roller hockey, lacrosse and team tennis combined. In some cases, as in baseball, hockey and basketball, there are formalized relationships between the major and minor leagues. In these systems, minor league teams are used for player development. Recent years have seen the creation of unaffiliated leagues without formalized relationships, but from which athletes may still advance to the major league level. Although both the major and minor leagues are viewed as professional sport, Johnson (1 995) high- lighted the differences between the two in his study of minor league baseball. Johnson (1995) noted that in Major League Baseball, a franchise might potentially draw millions of spectators for a season, while a successful minor league Franchise will draw only a few hundred thousand. A major league franchise draws many spectators from beyond its local area, while a minor league franchise draws from within a close proximity. Finally, the salaries of major league players and employees are much higher than the salaries of their minor leagues counterparts. Other differences between major and minor league franchises exist in the areas of facility size and quality, media exposure, the presence of league-wide national television contracts and the size of financial budgets. These differences can be extended beyond baseball, to the three other major professional sport leagues and their minor league counterparts. While the aforementioned differences are well documented, this study focuses on a key difference that has received very little attention in the academic literature: the variation in market size that is prevalent in the minor league environment but is not present in the major leagues. With the exception of the Green Bay Packers, even' franchise in the four major professional leagues (NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB) is located in a Top 55 media market. In comparison, there is a large variation in market size for teams who compete in the minor leagues. For example, the largest media market in the South Atlantic League (Single A Baseball) is Greensboro, NC, which ranks 47th in the United States. Salisbury, MD is the smallest media market in the South Atlantic League with a ranking of 162nd (U.S. TV Households, 2002). The purpose of this study was to determine if the population size of a market had an effect on key marketing characteristics of minor league sport consumers. The study focused on demographic profiles and attendance patterns of consumers. Further analysis centers on the relationship between market size and factors such as market competition and attendance frequency. The research was conducted on two teams in the National Professional Soccer League (NIPSL), and the researchers hypothesized that there would be significant differences due to market size variations across teams. If this is true, the management of smaller market teams may lace a much different marketing environment than teams in larger markets. While Johnson (1995) identified the differences between major and minor leagues, there are also several similarities. For example, both major and minor-league teams rely on gate receipts as a significant source of revenues. Howard (1998) noted that with the exception of the media-rich NFL, charged admission is the most prominent source of revenue for a professional sports franchise. Both the major and minor leagues also use marketing and promotion tools for the purpose of increasing attendance (Mullin, Hardy, & Sutton, 2000). Additionally, they both are involved in the sale of sponsorship and sig-nage to businesses interested in using sport to help market their products (Mullin et al., 2000). They are also similar in that both face increased competition from the growing number of entertainment options and sports media programming. As a result of this increased competition, attracting in-stadium sport consumers has become more challenging (Burton & Cornilles, 1998). To determine if market size differences in minor league sports affected the demographic profiles and consumption patterns of sport consumers, research was conducted on two teams within the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). The NPS is categorized as being a minor league because it serves as an unaffiliated developmental league for Major League Soccer (MLS). The league also tacks a national television deal and most teams have financial budgets that are similar in size to baseball, basketball, and hockey minor leagues. The NPSL was selected because the league's 13 teams were located in media markets that varied in population size. The findings of this study may help both NPSL and other minor league franchises to better understand how their market size is related to specific marketing characteristics and, in turn, aid managers in developing future marketing strategies.
ACCESSION #
9806902

 

Related Articles

  • NFL extends marketing opportunities well beyond regular season and playoffs. Schwartz, Matthew // B to B;5/14/2012, Vol. 97 Issue 5, p38 

    The article presents information related to National Football League's (NFL) marketing opportunities. It is noted that NFL has an average of 17.5 million viewers for each game during the regular season and is increasingly finding ways to attract audiences and marketers at other times of the...

  • THE POWER OF THE GAME. Layden, Tim // Sports Illustrated;2/13/2012, Vol. 116 Issue 6, p15 

    The author offers opinions on the National Football League (NFL). The league is said to be the dominant spectator sport in the U.S., a status the author argues is due to its successful marketing of itself to television viewers. The author notes that the violence that is an inherent part of...

  • Hitting the Goal. MCPHERSON, DOUG // Response;Jan2016, Vol. 24 Issue 4, p28 

    The article discusses the strategies of marketing professionals by enhancing their spectator sports advertising campaigns to drive profitable ticket and merchandise sales. It cites the invigorated ticket sales for Major League Soccer (MLS) in the U.S. that passed the selling average for the...

  • Black and Gold Rush. Santora, Tommy // New Orleans CityBusiness (1994 to 2008);1/15/2007, Vol. 27 Issue 29, p1 

    The article reports on the impact of the National Football League (NFL) playoffs on the local businesses of New Orleans, Louisiana. According to Pam Randazza, local shop owner specializing in NFL merchandise, two days before the September 25, 2006 home opener of the New Orleans Saints against...

  • Visa, NFL Come Marching In; Gidget Surfer Girls Grow up. Janoff, Barry // Brandweek;9/3/2007, Vol. 48 Issue 31, p12 

    The article discusses various advertising and marketing initiatives connected to professional sports. The article reports that Visa is planning to increase its marketing and activation efforts during the 2007 National Football League (NFL) season. Visa has been a sponsor of the NFL since 2005,...

  • CHAPTER 11: SPORTS FANS. Miller, Richard K.; Washington, Kelli // Sports Marketing;2014/2015, p65 

    The article presents chapter 11 of the book "Sports Marketing 2014-2015." It explores the result of the survey by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in December 2013 which reveals that 55% of adults in the U.S. indicate that they are sports fan. It highlights the sports leagues...

  • Kick Start. Lee Brewer, Graham // Oklahoma Today;Mar/Apr2015, Vol. 65 Issue 2, p34 

    The article offers information on the professionals sports franchise Energy Football Club in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Topics covered include the support of residents for the team as well as the efforts of the team to bring pride to the city. Also mentioned is the optimism of fans for the...

  • FFA campajgn scores a re-branding goal. Sinclair, Will // B&T Weekly;8/12/2005, Vol. 54 Issue 2531, p8 

    The article focuses on the multi-million dollar marketing campaign launched by Football Federation of Australia (FFA). The campaign has been launched for the new national football competition, the A-League. The article reports that the campaign is an attempt to re-invent football from its past...

  • Shootin' for 17. Greenberg, Steve // Sporting News;5/21/2007, Vol. 231 Issue 21, p6 

    This article discusses the global marketing of the National Football League (NFL). The article notes that the NFL has begun to market globally during the 21st century, including a proposal to expand the season schedule to allow for each team to play a regular-season game on foreign soil. Global...

Share

Read the Article

Courtesy of THE LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA

Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics