MLL Strives to Break into The Elite Sports Category
Lacrosse has been the fastest growing sport in the United States over the past decade. That growth has found its way to the professional level. Major League Lacrosse is one of the faster growing professional sports in the US. The league's current rise to fame is taking an extremely different path than other elite leagues have, such as the NBA, MLB and NFL.
The near-term growth of Major League Lacrosse will be found in internet live streaming and then later in a more distant future, perhaps a powerful entity on cable television. As older generations continue to watch the four dominating sports powers on cable, the younger generations are continuing to choose a different median for watching their beloved teams, internet streaming. In fact, Major League Lacrosse just scored a major win by announcing ESPN+ would pick up their live streaming of lacrosse games, enabling for a much larger audience. This continued growth will need to surpass 100,000 viewers a game before a major television contract is considered realistic from one of the leading networks. However, the world of cable television is slowly going downhill. Comcast and the other large US providers have seen a steady loss of subscribers to internet-based streaming services. Professional sports is considered to have a mote from "cord cutting" as rabid fans desire instant access to their teams' games. Its hard to take in a re run as a fan when the results are blasted all over social media. So, Lacrosse might be picked up by a smaller network looking for live content?
ESPN+ picking up distribution rights for live streaming of MLL games represents a big step for growing viewership.
With only nine teams, Major League Lacrosse is small, but it is undoubtedly a growing brand. In fact, the semi-pro league generated around $6.1 million in revenue last year, still a microcosm compared the likes of the NFL or NBA, but that figure is still up substantially from essentially $0 a decade ago.
Lacrosse has been the fastest growing sport in the US over the last decade.
Looking forward, MLL is planning to expand to sixteen teams and will continue to stretch their arms across the nation in the next ten years. As few live MLL games are in close proximity to fans, viewers will have to continue to resort to online streaming on platforms such as Lax Sports Network and ESPN3. Poor management can be to blame for the lack of expansion lead by former league commissioner David Gross. Sandy Brown, the current MLL commissioner, has high optimism and aspirations for the future, stating: “Right now we are a 4 month a year league, we need to be a 12 month a year league... what I mean by that is that, we need to be relevant 12 months out of the year. I think we need to increase our season, we need to increase the number of games that we play and the places that we play.”
MLL Commissioner Sandy Brown
But, Brown also sees a bigger ace up his sleeves. Brown gets excited when he starts talking about the trend of parents choosing to limit their children’s involvement in youth football. Brown sees this as an opportunity for more views. In his eyes, as the number of youth football participants decreases, kids will play less violent contact sports and switch to lacrosse, a sport that mimics the athletic capabilities of football. This trend will definitely help to expand the MLL fan base, leading to more streams and tickets and merchandise sales to fans. The younger generation is the fire under the potential explosion of the MLL.
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