Worldwide traffic figures to mlsnet.com, the official website of the leading US soccer league, attracted just over one million unique visitors in July – up 117% on the previous year – due in large part to the US arrival of former England captain David Beckham, who was signed by the LA Galaxy at the start of the year, according to comScore.
Beckham, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star, is reported to have signed a deal alleged to be worth around $250 million, making him one of the highest-paid sports stars of all time.
By the end of 2006, traffic to mlsnet.com had slumped to 230,000 unique visitors, down from 478,000 in July;Â however, when LA Galaxy announced the signing of David Beckham in January, traffic immediately jumped to 808,000 unique visitors – a 252% month-over-month increase – comScore said.
In the intermittent period, as the camera focus on “Brand Beckham” shifted back to Spain, interest in the MLS site fell away – by March it had fallen to 392,000 unique visitors – according to the data.
However, with the unveiling of Beckham as a Galaxy player at the team’s home field on July 13 and his subsequent playing debut in a friendly match against Chelsea on July 21, worldwide traffic to the site rocketed to over one million unique visitors.
“David Beckham’s impact on the MLS league’s official website has been enormous. The player has single handedly doubled the number of visitors to mlsnet.com versus last year, which let’s not forget, was a World Cup year. When you look at the huge traffic increase that occurred in January just because of the announcement of his signing for the club, the figures speak for themselves. If anyone can raise the profile of soccer in the States, David Beckham is undoubtedly the man to do it,” said Bob Ivins, EVP of International Markets at comScore.
US interest in the official MLS site also increased significantly following the announcement of the Beckham deal in January. Traffic increased 155%, from 159,000 in December 2006 to 404,000 in January 2007, according to comScore. The US traffic trend was similar to the worldwide trend, with visits peaking in July – at 594,000 unique visitors.
European interest in the US soccer site also exploded following the announcement of the move in January, with traffic up 700% on December 2006, comScore said. Like the worldwide trend, visitation immediately tailed off as European eyes refocused on the end of the various football seasons, but picked up again in June and reached its highest ever figure in July, with 255,000 unique visitors.