Actually, It's Called Football: 5 Things Other Than The World Cup That Are Way More Popular Outside America

After Landon Donovan's triumphant last-minute goal last Wednesday, it seems like Soccer Fever has hit America. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a low-grade fever, maybe running a toasty 99.7, rather than the 106 degree scorcher that soccer brings out virtually everywhere else in the world. It's just a sad fact of our country -- some may certainly love it, but by and large, the U.S. just isn't that into The World Cup. But don't feel bad, soccer! Here are five other things that are way more popular outside America.

5. Doctor Who

This British mainstay is in the Guinness books for longest-running sci-fi television show in the world, with its foppish two-hearted time traveler frightening the gee-willikers out of kids since 1963 (minus a brief lacuna in the 90s). And while it certainly has its fans here in the U.S. -- it set a BBC America ratings record for the premiere of its most recent season -- it's not the mainstream smash it is in sweet home Britannia. Ask the average Brit what a sonic screwdriver is, and you're likely to get a smile of understanding. Ask an average American about a sonic screwdriver and they'll think it's either a mixed drink or Lindsay Lohan's favorite sexual position. Or both.

4. The Golden Compass

The book series by Philip Pullman has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, so it seemed like a movie based on the first installment would be a no-brainer, insta-success. But, wary of its anti-Church themes, the Friends of Jesus squad put a fatwa out on the film, with the Catholic League calling for a boycott, and an editorial in the Vatican's newspaper denouncing the film as "godless." But for worldwide audience, Nicole Kidman and talking polar bears seem to trump even God; while the Golden Compass pulled in an anemic $70 million stateside, it grossed $300 million in foreign sales.

3. Big Brother

A modest summertime staple here in the U.S., Big Brother is big business all across the globe -- it airs in nearly 70 countries. Large enough to support multiple spin-offs of its main program -- Celebrity Big Brother! Teen Big Brother! -- its worldwide success can be traced to one simple universal truth: people like to watch attractive naked people. In countries with much more lax attitudes towards sex and nudity, the cameras and Internet feed inside the Big Brother house are a perennial hit. But here in the U.S., we like our sex like we like our politics: shameful and in a darkened room. Free hint to Julie Chen: If you want higher ratings this summer, just add more boob.

2. Russell Crowe

While the waning grosses of the stupendously awful Robin Hood seem to indicate that the chubby, grumpy balladeer's favor is falling in America, audiences everywhere else are taking to him like a phone to the head. While his last few movies have been virtual stinkbombs here, foreign viewers just can't get enough. Body of Lies made nearly 66% of its final gross through foreign play; State of Play made just shy of 60% the same way. And the aforementioned crapburger Robin Hood has made near $200 million overseas while here in the land of liberty and KFC Double Downs, it limped to a little over half that.

1. Ice Age 3

Perhaps you thought of the third installment the Ice Age series as I did -- a harmless little animated trifle that certainly is nowhere near Pixar-greatness but certainly not Delgo-bad either. Something that you'll doubtless see on TBS in heavy rotation a few years hence. Well, allow me to drop some knowledge, gentle reader: This little CG Hydrox cookie of a movie made a hair under $200 million in the U.S., but worldwide made an eye-popping $690 million. That's just a little less than a THREE QUARTERS OF A BILLION DOLLARS without even adding in a single American cent. Consider me stunned. But then again, maybe audiences respond a lot better when Ray Romano's phlegmy drone of a voice is dubbed over.


  • beh says:

    i love how people seem to think there is something "wrong" that americans aren't fanatical over soccer. why, exactly? that's like blaming the geek in high school for not being more into his football team? or, to put it where you industry types will understand more, why don't the glee club kids care more about their school's sports teams? gee, there must be something wrong with them! after all, 90% of their school IS interested! likewise with soccer. this insistence that americans are some how deficient because we don't run around screaming or blowing some godforsaken horn for 90 minutes straight is somehow wrong is itself stupid. maybe it's because we got OTHER stuff to occupy our time. you ever thinking of that?

  • Brian says:

    Soccer is a bit of a sissy sport. Probably why most Americans don't like it.

  • Joe says:

    To BEH- Those horns you speak of are a cultural thing for South Africa and do not represent the rest of the World or the sport of Soccer. They are a nuisance and very few people actually appreciate having to hear them. The Coaches have complained, the players have complained. Even the networks airing the World Cup have complained about them.
    I don't see where you come up with the notion that Americans are somehow "deficient" for not loving soccer? We are a sports crazy nation and we DO run around screaming for the major sports here. The only thing most outside the U.S. wonder is why we don't embrace soccer as well. A legitimate question, really. But I don't hear anyone trashing the U.S. for not loving soccer.
    Finally, learn how to capitalize the beginning of a sentence and use correct grammar. Example: "you ever thinking of that?" -is just embarassing. THAT will make the rest of the World think there is something "wrong" with the U.S. more than us not loving soccer.

  • Joe says:

    To Brian - First, you DON'T know what most Americans like nor do you speak for most Americans. Second, I'd like to see you go through the training that World Cup Teams experience, then run around for 90 minutes, getting kicked in the legs, having your ankles stepped on, elbowed in the face, or take a ball directly to the face and then call it a "sissy sport".

  • alessandro says:

    You had one of the greatest sports of the world and turned it into a farce for pussies (from rugby to american football). You love a sport were there is an enormous field and you have to HOLD a position and to run on a LINE (a lot of fantasy = asians are good at it). And basket...a tipical match: 2-0,2-2,4-2,4-4,6-4,6-6. In a 20x10 field. Football is the opposite to all of this. The simpler explanation for this is that americans always prefer the worse. In movies to.

  • Eddie says:

    5 things which are way more popular outside the USA ....
    1 yes Soccer, or football as it was called way before the US version was ever thought of...
    2 Cricket.... loved by millions all over the world,, though impenetrable to most people outside the nations who play it ... and before you say it is boring ... that is what many people think of baseball ... so dont judge
    3 Rugby .... think of American football minus the padding and the stopping every 30 secs watch a game and wonder how anyone escapes being injured...except there is a code amongst players .. you hurt one of us and just watch out...
    4 Mens Hockey .. or field hockey as it is known over here... a game for women ? just watch the Pakistan or Indian team play and you will think differently
    5 Snooker.... just think of pool on a table 3 x the size and then you will understand why people enjopy the skill of the professionals

  • TurdBlossom says:

    Soccer/Football is starting to catch on in North America, but like change it's happening slowly. Don't forget, Hockey dominates from October to June in virtually all of Canada and most of the Northern States.

  • Ben says:

    You just got epically troll'd Joe.

  • Formerly Blackwater says:

    To Joe: Learn NOT to capitalize random words like "soccer," "coaches," and "world." Also, it's "embarrassing," not "embarassing;" and "sports-crazy," not "sports crazy." Proper grammar would be "our not loving soccer," not "us not loving soccer." Also, check your style book on punctuation; it must be somewhere in your glass house.

  • Bruce says:

    Everyone needs to take a chill pill and stop bashing these sports just because 'someone else' doesn't enjoy them. Americans aren't crazy about football? Well to each his own. NONE of these sports are 'sissy' sports and each requires their own level of stamina and skill which don't make them superior to other sports. Besides baseball and American football, all other sports played in the US are popular globally, e.g. basketball, ice hockey (in countries with cold winters). The reason we don't hear too much about them is because America is where the big money is in these sports and where there's money there's automatically more coverage. The same goes for football in Europe.

  • Alvin2 says:

    To Joe - I think you and Beh are making the same point. There is a difference in culture around the world. There is nothing to "fix". I just think the article is just making an observation, not a criticism.

  • Greg says:

    The main reason soccer isn't as popular in the US is that it doesn't fill a niche like it does in other countries.

  • Jeff says:

    Why is it sad that no one in America enjoys watching soccer? It's an unwatchable sport, like womens basketball. There is absolutely nothing compelling about it.

  • Usha Kusner says:

    Patrick Simmelink

  • Trev says:

    To start things off; soccer is kind of sissy. I understand the training involved, but in American sports, a player goes down from actually being hurt. If a player is down for more than fifteen seconds, that player is headed to the sidelines, such as in football, basketball, hockey, etc. I have watched a ton of soccer and the players embellish their injuries to say the least. They roll on the ground in a grimace, but after ten to fifteen seconds, they shake it off and play as well as before. Real injuries are injuries, not just quickly-recoverable pain. Secondly, American football is much more complicated and requires much more strategy than othe rgoal sports such as basketball, hockey and soccer. Say what you may, but look at the variety of position specialties, the thousands of individual planned plays and the basic structure of the games and anyone can see that American football is superior to soccer in a variety of ways. Americans recognize this and appreciate it. Sorry, but soccer is simple and the players maintain a victim-like micro-culture that fortunately turns many American viewers off.

  • Trev says:

    Oh, and women's sports? I am not against them, just against them getting major television time. When I sit down to watch sports, I want to see the best athletes in a given sport. If not, I could walk over to the local middle school and watch their sports programs. Women's sports are more in-line with the special olympics and tee-ball. The game gives participants and spectators a warm feeling that all can enjoy sport, but does anyone watch for the thrill and excitement? No. I had a sociology professor try to argue with me on the validity of women's sports once and he argued that our modern sports suit men by utilizing men's natural upper body strength. Yes, men are better at baseball, throwing, etc. because of this, but what about sports that require less upper body strength? Running, bicycling, soccer, etc.? Men still excel at these sports. Men have more muscle, better body-control, better spatial intelligence, and less body fat. I am sorry if this upsets the ladies, but reality is reality.

  • JohnDoh says:

    5. When did Great Britain become the world? Dr. Who is cool though, but I never got hooked. Maybe I should give it a second chance...
    4. Where's the sequel? My point exactly. It never had the book fan base in America compared to the UK, but the studios viewed it as another Harry Potter.