This week the MLS flexed their marketing muscle by signing a 8-year/720 million dollar television deal with three major broadcasting companies. (ESPN, FOX1, Univison) Not only is this a five-fold increase in national revenue, about 4.5 million per team. Every team can create their own local deal to broadcast the other matches. It tough for whomever was interested in Chivas USA because the price just went up due to the guaranteed revenue going up. I don't know the specifics of the players labor deal but in other American leagues if revenues increase, then salaries also rise. So this seems to be a beneficial arrangement for everyone in the MLS. How will the fans be effected by this change?
If you are a fan of the National Football League then you know that your teams start time is either going to be at 11AM or 2pm mountain time if they don't play during one of the national games. Even those games have start times that you can plan your day around. The last set of contracts that MLS had saw 21 different start times. Sure it's the age of DVR but if they changed a sitcoms start time to a different day that usually spells the end of a show. People are creatures of habit and for a league that is trying to get traction it will be better to have Sunday afternoon/evenings be for the MLS. I know i'll be on my couch on Sunday Funday to watch the MLS doubleheaders until week one of the NFL season.
Sundays will feature doubleheaders from ESPN and Fox 1. The other weekly national game will air Friday nights on Unimas in the MLS' quest to get the hispanic demographic to bite. If this means more Friday nights at DSG Park then I'm all for this. MLS Live will still be around next year when the other changes happen. This could change based on what services they want to use and how digital media is different in two years time. One positive with the ESPN deal is that fans can watch on ESPN3. Which is live sports feeds for Internet users. I'm also sure that it will be available to Xbox One users on that platform which will get younger eyes on the product. They also want to get whatever content into an application form for consumers on Roku, Apple TV, and other media sharing devices. NBC sports has a better deal than any other out of market television package in the country. We could watch every game for free on the Internet last season. With the new deal can MLS match this? Would they even want too?
Speaking of other ways to consume media. I did some research on the Rapids first shirt sponsor. Ciao Telecom. The website makes me want to ditch my current provider with the promise of live sports with the big channels. My main hold-ups are to figure out the price. Which I'm sure will be lower then I'm paying now. It doesn't look like Altitude is on the package which will mean figuring out other means to watch away matches. Maybe that deal can be worked out by the time the service starts. If not the only part of that company for me will be the advertising I do with my shirt purchase. I think it's great that the MLS is moving boldly into new media by getting on a regular schedule and having diverse options. Having a sport that is big enough to get the corporate cash cow advertising dollar is what gives the league credibility. Having more competition with ESPN is what drove the price up for MLS. Right now it looks like everybody wins. Now I just have to figure out what channel on my television is Fox Sports 1.