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Horizon Media Survey Finds Millennials Will Keep Soccer Fever Alive After World Cup

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - July 22, 2014) - Horizon Media, one of the largest and fastest growing media services agencies in the world, fielded its latest Finger on the Pulse Survey® surrounding the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which has been viewed by a staggering 50% of U.S. consumers. While public opinion suggests that soccer will fade back into obscurity in the United States after the World Cup, survey results suggest that the sport has staying power, due largely in part to Millennials.

When survey respondents are asked when they thought that soccer would become "a major U.S. sport, contending with prolific U.S. sports such as baseball, football, hockey, and basketball," almost half of all people questioned said that soccer either already is (22%) or will be in the next five years (23%). In fact, more than half (55%) of survey respondents say the U.S. has a chance of winning the World Cup in the next four years.

"Like millions of others, I've been fascinated by the unprecedented national attention paid to the 2014 World Cup," said Kirk Olson, VP of Trendsights at Horizon Media. "But the reason why soccer is the sport of America's future is due to the millions of Millennials who are more engaged with the sport than any other generation, and it remains to be seen whether Major League Soccer will ride the wave to a bigger audience. But one thing is certain: Millennials like soccer. It's their sport. They're willing to own it."

Millennials -- now 77 million strong -- are indeed leading World Cup viewership. 57% of them are watching it, compared with 48% of Gen Xers and 43% of Boomers. Millennials are also generating the most optimism and enthusiasm for the sport, and they are more engaged with it than any other generational segment. Nielsen live plus same-day ratings confirm that Millennials are the force driving viewership numbers. Out of 60 matches televised between the start of the World Cup and the Brazil vs. Germany semi-final, 43 posted higher ratings among adults 18-34 than among adults 35-64. More telling is that out of 45 group round matches in which the U.S. did not play, 37 posted their highest ratings among adults 18-34.

When World Cup viewers were asked if they identify with countries and heritages other than the U.S., Millennials were more likely than any other age group to personally identify with a non-European country. This carried over into the teams they support. Millennials were almost twice as likely as Gen Xers and seven times more likely than Boomers to say a non-European team is the primary team they root for -- even over the USA.

So why are Millennials tuning in heavily and so highly engaged in soccer? The Finger on the Pulse Survey® suggests that Millennials watch soccer because they know how the game is played. A third of Millennials (33%) either currently play soccer or had played soccer in the past (compared to 23% of Gen Xers and 5% of Boomers). And while three-quarters of older World Cup viewers told us they watch mainly support the USA, almost half of Millennials (43%) said instead that they watch "because I like to watch soccer."

Regardless of age, of the 50% of consumers that are not watching the World Cup, two thirds (67%) of respondents reason that they are not soccer fans, one third (34%) of respondents say they aren't sports fans in general, and one quarter (23%) of respondents say they simply don't enjoy the World Cup.

About Finger on the Pulse®

Finger on the Pulse is Horizon Media's proprietary online research community, comprised of 3,000 people reflective of the general U.S. population. The community empowers the agency to connect directly with consumers, diving beneath the surface of beliefs and behaviors to uncover critical insights. Horizon's WHY Group launched the panel in 2012 to inform all aspects of our clients' marketing plans and to keep a pulse on emerging trends. New studies are fielded every week and include quantitative surveys, qualitative discussions and digital ethnographies. Opinion Pulse surveys are fielded twice monthly, covering timely topics relevant to marketers, advertisers, and the media.

About Horizon Media

Horizon Media, Inc. is one of the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agencies in the world. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in New York and has offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. Horizon Media was chosen as 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek as well as by Ad Age and as one of the world's ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company in 2011. In 2012, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder, was honored by Advertising Age as Industry Executive of the Year. Most recently, in 2014, Bill Koenigsberg was named 4As Chair of the Board and is the first person from a media agency to hold this prestigious position in the 100 year history of the 4As, the marketing industry's leading trade association.

The company's mission is "To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere." By delivering on this mission through a holistic approach to brand marketing, Horizon Media has become one of the largest and fastest-growing media agencies in the industry, with estimated billings of over $4.3 billion and over 800 employees. The company is also a founding member of Columbus Media International, a multi-national partnership of independent media agencies. For more information, please visit www.horizonmedia.com.