With the first game of the MLS playoffs upon us, we thought we would follow the ESPN2 broadcast of the Seattle/Houston playoff opener. The game is up against the World Series, NBA Basketball and various NHL games. Despite the ratings for MLS during the regular season, the playoff game faces series competition.
Before we discuss the broadcast, it is worthwhile to address ESPN efforts to promote the match through its various platforms. On ESPN.com, the game got little mention on the home page. There was substantial coverage on Soccernet, but the lack of prominence of the home page is fairly disappointing. There was similarly limited discussion of the playoffs on the ESPN networks in the lead up to the game.
Importantly, the broadcast was preceded by an ESPN 30/30 special. As a result, there were no concerns about missing parts of the match. The broadcast begin with a well produced opening highlighting MLS fans and a focus on the Dynamo and Sounders. The producers made an interesting decision to start with Harkes and JP Dellecamera on the field and followed with shots of Allen Hopkins participating in the “March to the Match”. The pre-game show was sponsored by VW
VW also got the first spot of the broadcast and was followed Pepsi Max (who has been active in MLS ads recently), Rent-a-Center, Wendy’s and Chevy. The studio show included usual suspects, Stone, Lalas and Foudy. The pre-game provided analysis of the Seattle game and provided some promotion of the Sunday broacast. There were also spots for Gatorade, Adidas (that strange MLS ad), and a series of local spots. The pregame concluded with a second VW ad, a return of the Pepsi Max spot (which was amusing the first five times it ran this year), Best Buy and Axe.
The ESPN Axis technology is always outtanding, and is something ESPN should make more use of during the broadcast. Budweiser presented the starting lineups. The X-Box tarps were very visible throughout. VW had space on the screen near the scoreboard early in the match. It only took 5 mintues to bring Hopkins into the game as a sideline reporter. Gatorade also grabbed some upper left screen time, as did adidas and Axe. Full credit to ESPN for early camera work. There were great shots of the shoving between Onstad and Montero and the rest of the melee. The booth did manage a plug for the weekend EPL broadcasts. A note to ESPN; the Seattle attendance is a great story, but not every three minutes. If you have to keep telling us, it isn’t that impressive.
At halftime, there were ads for Gatorade, Penzoil, local ads and lots of ESPN sports. The halftime show was preented by Axe and thier commercials were apparent. There were also spots for Best Buy, the Marines, Budweiser and Best Buy
This is just a taste. We will stop here in the second half. If something dramatic happens in a business sense, we will add it tomorrow.