From Underdog to Top Dog: How a Hulu Docuseries Boosted Soccer Club Fandom

Every 4 years, the FIFA World Cup hosts the top 32 national teams from around the world to compete for the most prestigious prize in soccer. Over the course of this month-long tournament, it feels as though the entire world is watching and cheering on their home teams or adopted home teams. Soccer fever is at a full pitch and it’s no coincidence that in recent years soccer-related content has grown in popularity. 

At the root of this desire for soccer-related content is something much more human than sport. People like to be a part of something and nothing brings people together like sports…and television. The shared experience of supporting a team or watching a new favorite show together creates community and nothing does that better than an underdog story. 

Soccer is life

It’s been said that “art imitates life,” and in the world of streaming, there is no better example of this than the relationship between soccer, television, and viewership. 

The most popular example of this relationship is Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso — a classic fish-out-of-water half-hour comedy series about an American football coach hired to lead a struggling English football team in the UK. The series became a hit when it was released at the peak of the 2020 Covid Pandemic. While viewers around the world were in lockdown, at the very least, we could all come together once a week to cheer on the fictional AFC Richmond. 

While many people who’d never watched soccer became obsessed with Ted Lasso and his much-needed jolt of weekly positivity from the pitch, other people bought soccer teams — like actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

Welcome to Wrexham 

During late 2020 Ryan Reynolds, the star most famous for Deadpool, and his business partner, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney not only decided to purchase a small and struggling Welsh football team, but they decided to also make a docuseries about it called Welcome to Wrexham

Naturally, Wrexham A.F.C., one of the oldest football clubs, suddenly found itself at the center of attention and with many new fans, despite it being a fifth-tier English soccer club. Because of the popularity of the stars who purchased it and their docuseries, Wrexham became a “team to watch.”

However, what’s even more interesting was that the popularity in Wrexham gave way to a bid for the Cinderella FA Cup which was broadcast on ESPN2. 

As the tournament went on, curiosity in Wrexham’s story increased and so did the viewership of Welcome to Wrexham. In fact, according to our data, the docuseries experienced 79 times more engagement during the August tournament. 

While art doesn’t always imitate life, it sure is fun when it does and especially if it’s something we can all get behind, like cheering on our favorite underdogs.