TV executives interested in creating more flexible MLS broadcasting schedule

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By KEVIN KOCZWARA

Attendance numbers for Major League Soccer have stayed strong in the last year, even with a one percent drop in average attendance around the league. But one issue MLS can’t seem to shake is the struggling television ratings, with drops for prime time matches on both ESPN and NBC.

According to a report from Sports Business Daily, audiences for the 20 matches that ESPN and ESPN2 aired this season dropped 29 percent from 2012, while broadcasts on NBCSN dropped 8 percent over same time period. The 2012 season was the league’s best since its inception in 1996.

NBCSN’s numbers didn’t drop as much as ESPN’s thanks to promotions during English Premier League games, which it started broadcasting in August. The number of average viewers jumped 20,000 after the Premier League debuted, from 112,000 to 132,000 average viewers.

What might be improve all ratings, however, is a change in the way MLS schedules games for broadcast with national partners. Producers at ESPN and NBC think its time to adopt flex-scheduling to allow for more high-profile matchups on prime time broadcasts.

“We have strongly urged MLS to consider a flex-scheduling concept. With good reason, MLS’s focus has been on attendance and getting local television deals. I think they know now that national television should be a priority,” Jon Miler, president of programming for NBCSN, told Sports Business Daily. “Hopefully, the league will work with the club owners to make something like flex scheduling a reality.”

ESPN’s senior vice president of programming, Scott Guglielmino, agrees with Miller’s assertion that flex-scheduling would be a good idea.

“As with any sport, stories develop as you get closer to the playoffs,” Guglielmino said. “As a national broadcaster, you want to provide the fans with the most important games and best stories.”

According to the report, Miller and Guglielmino said ESPN and NBC want to continue their partnerships with the league, which expire after the 2014 season.

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What do you think of MLS’s TV ratings? Should the league implement flex-scheduling? What can the league do to improve its TV numbers?

Share your thoughts below.

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84 Responses to TV executives interested in creating more flexible MLS broadcasting schedule

  1. RP says:

    What does flex schedule mean exactly? They cgange the start time of high profile games to allow prime time? ie not locked into a specific televised game?

    • Weston John says:

      It means they can swap one game that was originally slated for national television for another game. For example, in the neginning of the year, the execs thought DC United would be good and Portland would be bad. Accordingly, they may schedule a nationally televised game of DCU vs. HOU for the last game in the season thinking it will determine 1st v.2nd position in the East. Instead, they could change the nationally televised game to a differen more meaningful game that has storylines and implications. NFL does this.

      • Juest says:

        SEC football game times are a great example of flex scheduling. Some weeks, the game times are not scheduled until 6 days before game day. CBS has the first pick (at 3:30pm), and after that, ESPN gets 2 or 3 prime time slots (between 6-8pm kickoff). All other syndicated games typically start at noon.

        Perhaps MLS can avoid some of the game time confusion by kicking off multiple matches at the same time and giving the network an option to choose one to broadcast. That would provide an opportunity for highlights of the other games at halftime and post-game.

        One thing is for sure–MLS needs to be on TV on each network at the same time every week of the season.

        • Neal says:

          Agreed about the point of on each network at the same time every week

        • Shawn says:

          This. Nothing is more maddening than having to search and mark schedules to make sure you can catch a match.

          A constant presences, 1 night a week.

          • Amen to this…THis is America not Europe..the fan base for sports is huge but diverse…people here like sports onTV. But they want to know that evry certain night at a certain time a game is on in their preferred sport…

            also, something needs to be done to educate the average american fan on the beauty of the game..i get this every single day at work..” Soccer is boring and there is too much flopping” and i always try to reply and make my stand for the beautiful game..I always say the same thing…”if you appreciate team sports as much as you seem to then you would love soccer if you understand it” and they say “I do understand it…its boring” and i begin trying to discuss how difficult it is to score in pro soccer,,,how a 0-0 game can be wonderful to watch,,the point system for winds ties and losses. and then i begin asking them..Do you know the dif btwn a 4-4-3 and a 4-4-2? Do you know what it means for a team to bunker in? etc…and of course they dont know” it would be great if a pregame show discussed and debated the beauty of the game and taught the avg american football basebll fan etc..what to appreciate and look for…

            • Shawn says:

              Things I’ll ask when someone says “Soccer is boring.”

              Do they mean “low-scoring.” Then I’ll ask, “Can you appreciate a pitcher’s duel in baseball? Or a tense NHL playoff game where both goalies stand on their heads?” Are those ‘boring?’

              I’ll also point out, if Soccer gave ‘near misses’ points, like NFL & Rugby do w/ Field Goals, and then inflated the points, the scores wouldn’t be nearly as disparate as people think.

              There’s plenty of action. It’s just a different kind of action than the NFL. Indeed, as I get older, I find it harder to justify 5-10 seconds of action interspersed between a minute or more of inactivity.

    • H-town says:

      It will work like college football broadcasting. For the first few weeks of the season, they will broadcast a predetermined set of games. Then as the season progresses, the network will pick and choose the most interesting matchups that are occurring in a given week to maximizie viewing.

      For instance, this past season… Let’s sat there was a matchup of Chivas vs. Columbus and a matchup of LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo in the same week. Before, the networks might have scheduled the Chivas game and be locked into it, but now, about a week and a half out to two weeks they would announce for the LA/Houston game because it would have been the more intriguing matchup, likely to get a higher viewership. It gives the network the option to choose what will get more eyes on TV sets.

      • Joe+G says:

        And they will change the times of games if needed to fit that space in the schedule.

      • N-Whit says:

        I love soccer and I love watching soccer. But the ratings issues won’t be resolved until soccer becomes more popular on a national level. Plain and simple.

    • James says:

      Let’s just face facts
      In the US kids play soccer,but the older they get
      The kids grow tired and bored with it
      And play Baseball,Basketball,Football
      In a but shell,Soccer isn’t a sport

      And it can’t compete against the”Big 3″without a radical change
      To how they show the game
      -Have Commercials
      -Show Replays
      -Injure Time Out
      Otherwise,why bother showing games
      Don’t matter the day,time,or year
      Soccer needs to take some lube up the ass

  2. Toño says:

    I guess audiences didn’t get the memo that Dempsey had return to MLS.

  3. Jake says:

    Flex scheduling, at least during the playoff run (and geez… in the playoffs every game should be televised as well) seems like a really smart idea. DCU – Houston on NBC on the last day of the season was a dud of a game. Not surprisingly given how bad DCU was. Locking in the schedule so early in the season seems like a dumb idea.
    Also, fewer 11 PM or 10 PM eastern start times would probably be a good thing. I like to watch a lot of soccer, but I just can’t do that on a regular basis.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Except DC-Houston had playoff implications, ie, if DC won we were out.

      • Hogatroge says:

        While I was glad it was available so I could see Houston secure their spot, I’m guessing a lot of DC fans couldn’t have cared less and were already looking to next season.

  4. El Paso tx says:

    Well first of all, MLS only has one game a month on espn and most of the time their game sucks, and their commentators suck and it seems like they are whispering.
    Second of all, espn likes to show poker tournaments, softball tournaments and of course billiards instead of MLS.
    Third of all, espn and nbcsports need better commentators and I think fox sports 1 and 2 should do good with MLS.
    Fourth of all, MLS is going against every sport with this march to November schedule. I know people think it’s a bad idea to go august to May but it’s the best for MLS.
    Also, I would recommend MLS have more prime time times on espn and other networks, instead in the middle of the day.
    I understand it takes baby steps, but ask for more national exposure, like on nbc, abc and even telemundo and go get fox sports 1.
    Hopefully once MLS reaches 24 teams, everything will change, like tv deals, playoff system and league schedule. I

    • fischy says:

      Frankly, I’m never sure when or if there’s an ESPN game. The time has to be consistent. Will it be early, to show East Coast match, or late, meaning it will have to be a West Coast match? Frankly, I’m happy to have it late — I go to DC United matches, and then come home and look to see if there’s a game on later.

      • Ian says:

        Heh, that last bit hit me funny because I watch games late Saturday afternoon on MLS Live and then head to Galaxy games. Times zones, man.

      • Pete says:

        24 teams? I don’t think things will really change schedule-wise or TV-wise until MLS has 30-34 teams.

    • Toño says:

      I’m not saying this is the reason why ratings are down but when Taylor Twellman is one of the commentators I automatically change the channel. Nothing against him but his voice just annoys me..

      • Shawn says:

        Twellman is light years better than Harkes was.

        Which isn’t saying much. I actually like Taylor on the Big Head/Red Head podcast though.

    • James says:

      What needs to happen?
      Is Soccer needs an overhaul
      It can’t compete against NCAA Football in late Aug.-Jan.
      Ask this question,what is missing from soccer?
      -Scoring
      -Scoring
      -Scoring
      -Game-Winning Goals
      -Eliminate ties
      -Change how Soccer is played
      In a but shell soccer isn’t a sport without change

  5. riggis says:

    I think it’s a great idea…but they also need to schedule games consistently on a particular night and time..sort of a Game of the week style so you can set your watch to it and not have to keep looking at the changing schedule from week to week..this would be awsome!

  6. Ralphwrecking says:

    You mean to tell me that holding soccer matches during major sporting events like college football on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday hurts the ratings?

    GTFO!

    • Ralphwrecking says:

      Also, quit holding matches at 11pm EST. Half the country is not going to watch that regardless of whether or not they want to.

      • Ian says:

        Agreed. I don’t get why we have 8 PM kickoffs on the West Coast. I personally enjoy 6 PM games, which are sufficiently early for the East Coast too.

        • Chris says:

          A lot of fans have trouble attending or even watching a match at 6pm local time because they might be able to get to the stadium or home or by kickoff, especially if they don’t get off til 5:30.

          • seaoctopus says:

            Except alot of these 7-8 pm games are actually on Sat and Sun. Why not more afternoon games on weekends?

    • James says:

      This is soo simple,even”Illegal Juan”can understand
      Don’t put Soccer against the”Big 3″
      MLB,NBA,NFL,NCAA Football,NCAA Basketball
      They’ll lose out every time,if anything
      Try watching and learning and see, why they way more popular?
      Sadly,Soccer needs to change with the times
      Otherwise,not welcome in the USA

  7. WayDownInTexas says:

    They can start by making the fucking Playoff games available to a national audience. Last night’s NY vs HOU finale was pure drama and excitement. Guess how many got to watch? How can the league grow its t.v. ratings if the best games are only being watched by die hard MLS supporters.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      And I get censored by calling a guy whining about US soccer for the last 40 years a mor on.

      I was very surprised that NBC or ESPN didn’t put that game on. Very entertaining.

    • RB says:

      Last night’s NY–HOU match was available to a national audience, actually, just on Univision. Many’s the time the Spanish language networks have bailed me out of situations with poor or non-existent coverage by the regular suspects.

  8. Juest says:

    So what is it going to take to get better TV ratings? To be honest, I only enjoy about half of the MLS games that I watch that don’t involve the team I follow (and because I follow the Union, I enjoyed very few of our games this season). It can be a real crapshoot as to what’s a good game–some Galaxy games are boring, while some Chivas games are action-packed. So how are the network execs going to figure out which games will be interesting and enjoyable? And if your team is not interesting and enjoyable (hello, everyone not Portland, Seattle, LA, NY or RSL), then how will they get any national exposure to help build their brand?

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I’m going to throw out there a name: Beckham. Maybe the claimed downtick is the league settling back down in his absence. You could get spouses and significant others and women in general to watch soccer more easily when Becks was around. One of my concerns about the Becham strategy in general was that it could create attendance and tv bubbles. You pull in people for a while and then lose them again.

      So I’d be interested what the longer term trend line is, up or down, factoring in Beckham’s bubble effect. If the trend line is generally up then it’s more about growing from baseline than watching each game’s returns like the stock market and worrying about one year slightly off when a key player retires.

      That being said, perhaps this is the time to invest in another big name after Brazil. If you play the name game you have to keep supplying one. Or we can just do a slower build but then you have to deal with ratings obsessed ESPN watching over your shoulder.

      • bryan says:

        interesting point you make and i think we’ll see an influx of players after the World Cup. Toronto have basically signed Gilardino already. then Kaka, Ronaldinho, Drogba, Sneijder, Xabi, Torres, etc. all have to be strongly considered as real possibilities. add on some US players like Jones and Onyewu as well. and i’m sure i’m missing some players who mentioned MLS as a possible place to play.

        the question will be where they all end up.

    • unbeknownst says:

      It’s not about putting on better “action-packed” games. It’s about building a story leading up to the match. So they can create an audience prior to the game itself.

  9. The Imperative Voice says:

    Isn’t ESPN the network that used to have a regular MLS game during the day Saturday and now bounces around? I remember it was roasting for many a game — as it is usually for the Univision game on Sunday — and so they moved it, which then started bumping up against evening programs.

    One issue I see with this is there are multiple national tv deals, NBC, ESPN, Univision. Each network can’t have its way and get the marquee game each week.

    There may also be implications for local broadcasts if the national tv takes on a more overdog flavor as seasons progress. What if a bad team has a lousy local deal? The network flexes out and who’s showing the game? I like as much league exposure as possible. You will be building audiences in a few expansion markets soon, and you may need to weigh the value of keeping the entire league visible versus presenting the best matchups for networks. For example, you might want to grab onto Miami and Orlando fans whose teams are arguably risky choices. Treat them like red headed stepchild franchises on tv and maybe the visibility that builds attendance is not there the same.

  10. Ralphwrecking says:

    There are teams that NOBODY wants to watch outside their home market.

    Chivas.
    DC United
    Toronto
    Vancouver
    Crew
    Dallas
    Fire

    These teams being on will sink the ratings. Period. When you have franchises like Chivas that average HALF or a THIRD of the gate tickets of other teams, how do we think that looks on television?

    Ratings are most powerful when a club has out-of-market appeal. LA galaxy will get big ratings everywhere. Brand recognition and name players.

    Can anyone name a single player on Toronto or Chivas–non home market fans that is?

  11. bryan says:

    makes sense. even as a DCU fan, i found it strange the last game on NBC was DC v. Houston at RFK.

  12. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    Hmmm, I realize it is a biz, but the idea of having very late games and games changing last minute is very unappetizing. Especially because it is just get eyeballs of casual fans at the expense of the serious ones.

    The one thing that I disagree with MLS on. They care if others watch…I don’t. They have the more difficult task…there are a lot of very du mb people out there not watching.

    • Joe+G says:

      I don’t think it will be last minute, but the schedule won’t be set for TV at the start of the season. By Weds. or so, the match for TV will be set (which might require a game time change). They can do it even earlier, depending on what is happening in the league.

  13. Travis says:

    Someone else has already mentioned it but the number 1 most important thing MLS and the tv networks need to do is pick a time for a game each week and it needs to be the same every week. They should pick a GOTW for sunday night at like 7 ET time and it should be on at that time on the same network every week. I follow MLS fairly closely and I have no idea when games are on national televisions stations. I know NBCSN shows one every saturday more or less but the times are random to me

  14. Ryan in Syracuse says:

    I also hope that they try to schedule teams for one game a week so everyone has a consistent schedule….at one point this past season the RBNY had played 13 games and some teams had only played 8…that’s ridiculous…in June RBNY had 3 weeks off ….they can create a schedule where everyone plays once a week…maybe a fri game then everyone else plays saturday and sunday….and if you have a weekday slate of games the majority of teams should be playing to avoid the disparity in games played.

  15. Andy says:

    It would be awesome to have a game of the week. Play a Friday night game every week. Have more games Saturday and Sunday on NBC that follow a BPL game to carry that audience. Have two time slots on Saturdays and Sundays that games have to be played in so people know when to tune in. Harder when teams share facilities, but during the summer months it should be easy to have a set schedule of time slots to play games. If there were always 3+ games to pick from in a given slot, you could usually assure one good matchup.

  16. Cosmosfan says:

    Comsos Classics on SNY outdrew a couple NYRB live games on MSG this year. Just putting in perspective how few people even locally watch MLS. TV is a huge component of business success for any pro league and if they want ratings they have to get people to care about MLS on a large scale. Its better than it was years ago and slow growth is great but at some point the league needs to look at how they do business because to get nice national ratings the league needs to be something all soccer fans here want to watch.

  17. EXT says:

    You mean they don’t do that already? Lame.

  18. Larry says:

    make the regular season matter more. One league table and give the pts winner the league title

    then have a post season tournament that is called a cup not the playoffs to decide league champ.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      Yeah, that will do it….not.

      Also, why would you have a Cup tourney at the end again ?

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      The US has had soccer playoffs all of my 50 years.
      When do you think you whiners will quit whining about the playoffs ?

      Maybe in the 2060s ?

      • slowleftarm says:

        No doubt it’s better to just award the championship to the team with the most points – a/k/a the best team. May not be realistic here but I can understand why people would want that.

      • Hal says:

        the best leagues on the globe award the best team with the league title. We should follow that.

        If MLS playoffs were getting good TV ratings you might have a point. But they aren’t and you don’t.

    • Joe+G says:

      Everything fixed in one post. Our work is done here.

    • Shawn says:

      We already have the US Open Cup, why do we need a SECOND cup that has no relation to the Championship?

      • Hal says:

        since we don’t have a prestigious champions league I don’t think an end of season MLS cup is a bad idea. As long as it doesn’t equal the league champ. The league champ should be regular season winner. And MLS Cup should be seperate. The winner wins the MLS cup.

        I swear, everyone i talk to about soccer at bars and at games agrees with this. It’s just a few loud mouths on BS and here that don’t.

  19. dude says:

    i think it comes down to style of play the old guard of MLS coaches still play a very defense first and counter attack mentality.

    Houston ughh ugly ugly soccer im sure it mattered more to the repesctive team fans but as an outsider or a national viewer i turned it off.

    Kinnear,Yallop,Schmidt,Arena old guard defense first ugly winning soccer bad for ratings good for local team fans

    New blood Kries,Petke,Heaps,Pareja, porter all exciting style of play

    Vermes is a crapshoot his teams could play great attacking football but they play a very physical game.

    I love ex MLS Players becoming coaches they saw the issues and are mixing it up and changing the formations we need new blood in this league to chang s styles of play and to break up the parity a little more.

    • Tony says:

      Great post

    • Shawn says:

      The ‘physical’ play is part and parcel of playing High-pressure. EPL games are physical for the same reason. So I think Vermes is right on. What’s more, it’s that high-press, chance-creating style that’s made SKC relevant. It’s as much part of the brand as the shiny park we all love.

  20. Waterlewd says:

    I’d be interested i the number of MLS Live subscribers too. I watch matches on my iPad or computer so I can watch something else on TV or work. When the matches are blacked out on MLS Live because they’re showing on ESPN or NBCSN, it changes my preferred viewing habits.

  21. Dawn Kiebals says:

    Beckham giveth and Beckham taketh away

  22. Tony says:

    Lets face it the US market works hard at making sure americans don’t like soccer. Take a look at nbc. they picked up the EPL and while they promised more coverage this is simply not the case. Fox had a dedicated channel with daily commentary at a regular time. NBC does not show nearly as many games on tv . Sunday was a prime example they has one game then featured the abu Daniel Grand Prix and hunting. Yep hunting gets more ratings in the minds of execs at nbc than soccer. I bring this up because with the ineptitude of mls and the lack of vision at American network to provide access to the global game it will be tough to get MLS as one of the premier leagues in the worl despite the fact that there are many soccer fans in the US

    Moreover the commentary and analysis for soccer is extremely limited. ESPN FC is a great idea but what time is it on? Always switching. NFL shows are on year round even though they play 5 months. These shows pump up the league with cheer leading and in depth analysis. Soccer does not have this and when we do get the occasional show there is nothing about MLS on the programming

    Then there are the analysts. Besides ives, and a few local sites in New York the reporting is weak the commentators like twelman and lalas are a direct turn off to even raging fans. I’m sure they are good people but they both lack depth in their analysis and commentary they don’t recognize that as former players they are not just reporters but are also ambassadors to the league. They need to act with decorum. Bashing the league and its aging stars is shortsighted and alienates fans from mls

    Specifically there is the case wherev lalas made too much of the chivas racism case one to many times. while he has a right to report the racism his choice of venue to discuss the issue during the all star game was questionable given the purpose of the game is really to showcase MLS moreove, the constant complaints by twelman about the aging stars not getting it done is a turnoff to any viewer he should be more positive and Focus on tactical changes that are occurring during the game while he is being negative

    It is is also important to note that the two downplay the mls season when people win the US cup they quickly mention the lack of attention the teams give the tournament so instead of creating a narrative about a spirited underdog like DC beating real they mention well real doesn’t win at home they don’t get the job done. Well if this is the case why should I continue watching. When a red bulls wins the supporter shield they both say good for you but in America it is about rings and quickly mention how supporter shield winners never win the playoffs. So why should I watch the playoffs then if I know the best teams are quickly eliminated.

    You don’t get this in other sports or anywhere around the world. NBA NFL NHL stars critique the league but also talk about how great it is. Mls commentators put the league down then wonder why ratings are bad. Commentators should pump up the league and all the cups

    • AcidBurn says:

      NBC’s coverage of the PL is lightyears better than FSC, let me list few of the reasons:
      1. Extra time – every game is on TV. Even the Brits don’t have this.
      2. High profile match on NBC.
      3. Review shows, highlight shows, etc.
      4. Quality of commentating.
      5. Rebecca Lowe.

      • Shawn says:

        Indeed, slam NBC for a lot of things. But their commitment to soccer is legit. The Brits complain that we’re watching EPL matches over here THEY can’t see.

        And the “Game of the Week” is the closest thing to a showpiece for MLS that the league has ever had on network television.

  23. Rat Face says:

    Here’s a suggestion: get announcers that actually announce the play on the field, not talk about nonsensical stuff while the play is going. MLS announcers bore me to tears.

    And here’s another announcer tidbit: Just because they have a British accent doesn’t mean they are good announcers.

    And a third announcer tip: Just because they played professional soccer doesn’t mean they are good announcers.

    Bill Riley for RSL is an incredibly exciting announcer that needs to be tapped for national games.

  24. Beto says:

    I am with the flex schedules and all but i wish they had set times throught the week ex. I dont care about nfl at all but i know when monday night football is every week. Something along those lines would really help.

  25. AcidBurn says:

    Simple fixes, most have been mentioned already:

    1. Pick a time and stick with it (which is not Sunday at 11 PM on the East Coast). Or 1-2 national times, like a Saturday 6 PM and Sunday 8 PM games.
    2. Flex scheduling.
    3. Focus on rivalries / big teams.
    4. Get additional coverage for final weeks and kick off final games at same time.

  26. dan says:

    How about a freaking consistent day? Honestly MLS needs to chose a day like most other leagues and play their matches mainly on that day for the week. 90% of premier league matches are on saturdays and almost all NFL are on sundays. Why not just pick saturday?

  27. bottlcaps says:

    ESPN has done more harm than good to MLS broadcasts. I has invested little in it;s MLS property in comparison to it’s other pro sports properties and even less than collegiate properties,. If I was to give ESPN an out, it would be the chicken and the egg syndrome. ESPN does not want to invest more time or money in broadcast rights or promotion until it sees a return on it’s investment. But, unless there is more promotion, especially in a very,very competitive sports market, you will not see advances in viewership until it promotes more.
    NBC on the other hand, used a vehicle it paid dearly for, the US EPL rights to piggyback it’s MLS pr0perties.

    If it is looking for a reason there is a viewership drop, you must look at the product. ESPN gave us games with DC United, Chivas, the Philly Union and Columbus, with an occasional Galaxy or Seattle game. It seems to me with more rivalries presented by NBC, and promoted during its EPL broadcasts, NBC did OK (if an 8 percent drop is OK) You also have to look at a big attractor in David Beckham leaving and not being replaced, per se.

    I still think the broadcast rights , after this year expires, will be higher by a lot, despite the lagging viewership. Remenber Fox TV just spent a boatload of cash to launch it’s sports networks, and will be looking for product, and with it’s experience with overseas soccer, they will be a player. NBC having secured rights to the EPL, will want to expand it’s MLS product in a symbiotic way, to promote both, and ESPN, bringing up the rear will have to pay up more, will get it’s more flex scheduling (which actually will help the MLS), but will have to step up it’s promotion.

    The feedback were hearing is just the starting pistol for the broadcast rights, with the broadcasters whining about something to get a toehold up in its bargaining power. It;’s a valid point, but the big picture is that a goodly increase in broadcast rights, will lead to more and higher salary levels (and caps) that will allow MLS teams to go out and but bigger name players, which will in turn increase the TV viewership.

    I miss Beckham already.

    • Shawn says:

      Agree that ESPN’s fixation on ‘major market’ games, even when those teams STINK, hurts the product. NBC put rivalry games on every chance they could. And when they weren’t rivalry games, they were at least relevant, by and large.

      The Regional Cup Rivalries, Houston/SKC rivalry and similar plotlines ought to make for required viewing that networks could pick up and run with. But this would require someone SELLING that as a plotline. The only ones ESPN gets are the Cascadia Cup and the much-overrated “SuperClassico” (as if Chivas is relevant even in LA).

      And I’m sorry, when MLS can showcase at Sporting Park in midseason for its All Star Game, and then ESPN act like neither the team nor stadium EXIST the rest of the year, there’s something wrong. Why not pick up the ‘successful’ clubs. Those are the ones that are going to give the League the best chance at a national footprint.

      It’s almost as if ESPN doesn’t want MLS to get too big that they would have to fight to keep it on the back burner.

  28. Mueller says:

    Games should be in the afternoon after EPL games. You could put a double header every Saturday and/or Sunday with one East Coast game and one West Coast game so the games would kick off at 2 or 3 pm local time. The whole idea of a 5 hour break between EPL and MLS is stupid. Half the time I switch the channel from NBCSN to get it off indy racing and I miss an MLS game I would normally watch. If they were back to back I would watch more games from just not having to switch the channel.

    • beto says:

      +1 this being the first year that NBC owns the bulk of MLS + EPL games I hope to see more changes like this in the near future.

      I hope to see fixed timespots for the game of the week on each network and a lot of afternoon games that work with the end of EPL/uefa games.

      also i know MLS is doing its own thing with MLS Live but providing (free) online steaming games is huge too. I reverted to watching last nights playoffs on a bootleg website but will be watching tonights on the nbc app –> if it can’t be televised on a tv network just put it online! don’t make people use bootleg streams!

  29. Hal says:

    “As with any sport, stories develop as you get closer to the playoffs,” Guglielmino said. “As a national broadcaster, you want to provide the fans with the most important games and best stories.”

    Actually in soccer leagues in Europe (and around the globe) stories develop all season long. This kin kind of thinking from MLS and Guglielmino kind of explains MLS’s low TV numbers during the season and playoffs. If the whole narrative during the season is about who qualifies for playoffs then you really aren’t giving the casual soccer fan (or even the traditional soccer fan) a reason to tune in. They’ll just tune in come playoff time (or not at all as we’re seeing).

    You have to treat the regular season with greater respect. The narrative during the regular season has to be about winning the regular season title. Otherwise you have no story lines. Look at what works with soccer around the globe and implement it here. It’s not rocket science.