Lionel Messi, an American idol

By Paul Kennedy

Lionel Messi is not only the best player in the world, he is also the most popular men's player in the United States by a long shot.

According to a 2012 Soccer Insights survey, 23.4 percent of U.S. fans said the four-time winner of the Ballon d'Or was their most popular player, almost three times the next two most popular players: Cristiano Ronaldo (8.14%) and Landon Donovan (8.1%). Other Americans in the top 10 were Clint Dempsey (fifth) and Tim Howard (seventh).

Messi was also first among non-Hispanic and Hispanic fans by a wide margin. Donovan and Dempsey were ranked 2-3 among non-Hispanic fans, and Ronaldo and Mexican Javier Hernandez trailed Messi among Hispanic fans.

(Click here for complete survey results.)

FOX SOCCER LAGS IN CABLE RANKINGS. Fox Soccer finished 94th out of 96 cable networks in 2012 total-day viewers -- an average of 26,000. Only VH1 Classic and Fuel averaged few viewers.

In terms of prime-time viewers, Fox Soccer was last with an average of 31,000 viewers. (Fox Soccer does relatively speaking poorer in the evening because most of its strong programming -- English Premier League and UEFA Champion League -- airs live during the day.)

Fox Soccer jumps to 90th out of 96 cable networks in terms of 2012 total-day viewers among adults 25-54. No information was available in the 18-49 demographic in which it would be expected to do even better.

The top five cable networks in terms of total-day viewers were Nickelodeon, Adult Swim, USA Network, Fox News and Cartoon Network.

Sports Cable Networks (2012 Total-Day Viewers)
7 ESPN 1,015,000
36 ESPN2 282,000
54 NFL Network 151,000
58 Speed Network 117,000
63 NBC Sports Network 102,000
68 Golf Channel 95,000
78 ESPN News Network 67,000
82 NBA Network 59,000
85 MLB Network 53,000
86 Velocity 53,000
94 Fox Soccer 26,000
96 Fuel 20,000
Note: Viewers are the time-period averages.

(Click here for the complete rankings.)

SUBARU SPONSORS REGIONAL CUP. Mark Miller Subaru will be the presenting sponsor of the Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup, started by fans of the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake in 2005 to coincide with RSL's first year in MLS. Colorado won the cup in the first two years, but Real Salt Lake won it in 2007 and has held it since. The Rocky Mountain Cup will be awarded to the team with the better record over the three games.

CREW RENEWS SUPPLIER DEAL.MLS's Columbus Crew has renewed its partnership with JD Equipment for the central Ohio-operated business to be the Crew’s lawn care equipment supplier for Crew Stadium and its surrounding facilities in 2013. JD Equipment will supply the Crew with John Deere machinery to help maintain the club’s grounds.

EPYS SIGNS NEW NIKE AGREEMENT. Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer and Nike have entered into a new, four-year partnership that will provide exclusive apparel and equipment coverage for all of the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer programs, including EPYS's ODP and coaching education program. Angelo’s Soccer Corner will be the exclusive retailer partner for this agreement.
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