The Super Bowl In Mexico

The title of this story in the Houston Chronicle is "American football gains Latino popularity, millions plan to watch Sunday's big game.  Commentators inside the United States would like to proclaim this as the most important sports event on the planet, but what does the rest of the world think?  What is the reception of American football and the Super Bowl in Mexico?

They certainly do. American-style football has become Mexico's second most popular spectator sport after soccer.  Grudge matches between the oldest university teams in Mexico City annually draw crowds of close to 60,000 spectators. The country's largest newspapers cover all of the NFL's Monday night games.

The NFL's market research estimates that up to 20 million Mexicans -- one-fifth of the country's population -- are at least casual fans and calculates that 13 million Mexicans watched last year's Super Bowl on television, said Geraldine Gonzalez, an executive in the league's Mexico City offices.  Mexicans do enjoy other U.S. sports. Baseball is rising in popularity as fans follow major-league and Mexican League teams -- in which many Americans play. And professional basketball games are a favorite at Mexican sports bars, especially during the playoffs.  But football is the one American game that captivates most Mexican fans.

Despite football's popularity in Mexico, the NFL hasn't played an exhibition game there the past two seasons. Neither of Mexico's national television networks has broadcast an NFL game this season. Instead, FoxSports, ESPN and DirectTV broadcast the games in Mexico.  NFL football was carried by Mexico's networks for 36 years before discussions between the league and the broadcasters about transmission rights fell idle last year, Gonzalez said. Fans who can't afford to travel to Houston will be scrambling for television sets. Sports bars, restaurants and neighborhood cantinas are advertising Sunday's game, confident of drawing crowds.

We will now refer to an independent source of data, namely the 2003 TGI Mexico study.  This is a survey of 8,920 persons between the ages of 12 to 19 years old interviewed in Mexico during 2003.  During the interview, the respondents were asked if they have watched certain types of sports programs during the preceding 12 months.  Here are the survey responses:

(Source:  2003 TGI Mexico)

At least according to the TGI Mexico study, American football is behind basketball in terms of television viewing.  This list refers solely to three sports that are associated with the United States (baseball, basketball and American football) as well as the international game of soccer.  According to the same TGI Mexico study, if we had counted other international sports as well, we would find American football behind athletics, auto racing, boxing and professional wrestling in Mexico.

Who are the viewers of American football in Mexico?  The next chart gives the incidence by socio-economic level and age/sex.  As expected, this is an upscale male audience.  

(posted by Roland Soong on 1/30/2004)

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