For decades, soccer has been a leading participation sport in the United States. But TV viewership has lagged behind.

With the 2014 World Cup being in time-zone-friendly Brazil — and ESPN having wall-to-wall coverage of matches, 2014 may be the year for TV viewing to take off in the United States.

As Nielsen notes:

“Long considered an up-and-coming sport to both watch and play, the popularity of soccer has been growing steadily since the rise of the soccer mom. In fact, advertisers and programmers looking for a unique opportunity to connect with fans outside well-established American sports, such as football or basketball, take note: the World Cup could be that space. After all, the sport’s fans are dedicated to the teams they root for, avid spenders, and quite social when it comes to digital dialogue. Soccer’s fans are also a pretty diverse lot, which isn’t surprising considering it’s the preeminent sport throughout much of the world.”

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