English Premier League’s World Cup bump arrives

APTOPIX Britain Soccer Premier LeagueConverted: Record numbers of U.S. viewers watched the opening weekend of EPL action that included this Wayne Rooney goal for Manchester United in a losing cause against Swansea City (Associated Press photo).

That World Cup bump I wrote about a couple of weeks ago? It’s here.

NBC said today that:

  • Saturday’s Arsenal-Crystal Palace game on NBC averaged 885,000 viewers and became the most-watched opening weekend match in U.S. history. It out-drew last year’s corresponding fixture by 12 percent.
  • Sunday’s Newcastle-Manchester City game on NBCSN averaged 514,000 viewers, ranking it as the most-watched opening weekend game on cable in U.S. history. It topped the previous record holder in 2012 when ESPN showed the game.
  • All told, 3.3 million watched the five games that aired on NBC and NBCSN, the most ever for the opening weekend of EPL action.
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World Cup Watch: The best and worst commercial tie-ins to banned biter Luis Suarez

We’ll start with the worst, which is this YouTube video distributed by the Girl Scouts of America to media types Friday to pump up cookie sales.

That’s right, an organization that purports to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place” is exploiting a violent incident seen around the world by a racist repeat offender like Luis Suarez.

“Have you ever wondered what Girl Scout Cookies do in their off-season?” read the accompanying press release. “Girl Scout cookies are biting back and staying active in the off season with a little help from the World Cup!”

In a word: tasteless

And here’s the best, from online casino Betfair, which has a whole host of creative Suarez bets including:

What will be the nationality of the next person bitten by Luis Suarez?

  • Goes Hungry (None, he won’t bite anyone ever again.) – 1/16
  • Fish and Chips (English) – 18/1
  • Paella (Spanish) – 18/1
  • Ratatouille (French) – 20/1
  • Bitterballen (Dutch) – 25/1
  • Bratwurst (German) – 25/1
  • Haggis (Scottish) – 25/1
  • Pizza (Italian) – 25/1
  • Roast Lamb (Welsh) – 33/1
  • Taco (Mexican) – 50/1
  • Hamburger (American) – 66/1
  • Kebab (Turkish) – 66/1
  • Sushi (Japanese) – 80/1
  • Stroganoff (Russian) – 100/1
  • Chow Mein (Chinese) – 250/1
  • Vindaloo (Indian) – 500/1
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Watch: The World Cup Battle off the Field brought to you by adidas and Nike and (insert company here).

I’m a sucker for World Cup ads.
Usually made on big budgets and shown around the world with slick graphics, cool music and story-telling slices of snazzy soccer served up in 60 second segments, they are little stories unto themselves.

And as American interest in the World Cup continues to grow the competition for eyeballs — and consumer’s pocketbooks — grows ever more intense.

Check out some of the best of them here.

More stats and numbers on the growth of soccer in the U.S. and the spending power of its fans are here.

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