The Daily Wave: What's The Deal With The MLS' TV Deal?

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

The lifeblood of a league is the television contract and MLS per team is 25% of it's salary cap per team. Does the addition of another New York team make the next television deal better?

The number one reason that sports have grown into one of the biggest businesses since the 1990s is the money that comes from sports broadcasts. Take the NBC Sports Networks deal with the Barclay's premier league, for instance. $250 million over three years. That's a little more than 83 Million a year or about 4 Million per team. That's ten times more per year than every MLS team makes per season with their only national contract, and the NBCSN deal is just the United States rights! The English Premier League is the most watched league in the world. An estimated 1.6 Billion people watch per season.

The Rapids are owned by a company with their regional sports network so they don't report how much they make from their televised matches. I'd say it's probably not much considering that the hiring of the new director of broadcasting Richard Fleming admittedly came out of the teams budget and not Altitude's. Now every team in every league is different but every other broadcaster on Altitude is employed by the channel and not the team. Two-time defending champion LA Galaxy has a bigger contract than the league itself! 10 years and 55 Million. SO with the addition of another major market team, (NYCFC), it should put the MLS in line for a larger contract after next season when the current contract is up. But I don't think the MLS should leave the NBC family of networks and the main reason is the English Premiership.

Soccer fans are loyal. Soccer fans are devoted. But most of all, the demographic that works for the American soccer fan is English speaking. The failed Chivas USA experiment is about not getting the right brand in the right place. Manchester City and the New York Yankees are a perfect match, except for the fact that the NYCFC or City FC will be playing on the most sacred field in all of baseball, Yankee Stadium. (At least they will not desecrate the old Yankee Stadium. People that already don't understand soccer would flip their proverbial lids if soccer was played on that hallowed grass.)

Just like the LA Galaxy getting a bigger contract for their regional TV market than the national TV contract, it's about content for the distributors. The biggest product on their channel, Time Warner Sports LA, is the Lakers. Next is the Dodgers, then the Galaxy. Selling those teams advertising is relatively easy. But the sales people could charge more if they have more live television packages to see it and it would be a different set of eyes on their products. It's like a radio station cluster. Four or five different radio signals having the same commercial will be more profitable than just pounding that same commercial on one station. The other reason sports are so much more heavily invested on television is that it is more economical than a sit-com or drama. Once again sports beats out the arts. I would argue that the good shows find their way to the top and in the over-saturated marketplace of broadcast entertainment today. Live sports are more profitable than watching an anti-hero drug kingpins life story.

That is why it's imperative to see the MLS stay on NBCSN with their expanded coverage of the Barclay's Premier League. Negotiated into the US market was a later start on Saturdays so they could broadcast a "game of the week" on the NBC network and a Sunday morning game. ESPN couldn't match the coverage that the MLS will get with NBC. With the NBA and the Thursday night football contracts coming up the already crowded market is getting bigger. More competition means more money for your product. The MLS must capitalize to sustain the league because expansion fees mean more teams a smaller part of the TV money pie. If the average fan wants to know what they can do to make the MLS more competitive under the current system then they must raise the ratings and therefore the TV money. The last two work stoppages in US sports, (NHL, NBA), were about the percentage of player revenue. They both settled for about fifty percent. The most publicized revenue in every sport is how much they get in broadcast fees. So get your friends out to a game and then make them watch on television if you as a soccer fan want to see world class soccer here in the MLS.

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