With a big soccer doubleheader on ESPN, we thought we would review the broadcast, commercials and marketing from the telecast. Before the game, the USA/Costa Rica match featured prominently across all ESPN platforms. There were lead ins on SportsCenter and a 30 minute pre-game featuring Stone and Musto from Bristol. The pre-game coverage included a thorough review of qualifiying from around the globe. Commercials during the pre-game included Bridgestone, Gatorade, Pennzoil and others. There was also a fairly limited amount of local advertising.
The coverage on ESPN was fairly impressive. Bob Ley anchored from RFK with Lalas while eand Harkes handled the broadcast. When including the studio team, ESPN devoted 6 separate “talents” to the match. The coverage was professional and comprehensive. Scores from around the globe were regularly updated and viewers were kept apprised of develpments from all regions.
Tabasco, Gatorade, Pepsi Max, Blimpie and FIFA ’10, Budweiser and others made up the advertisers for the game broadcast. Pepsi, Axe and Gatorade also had in-game advertising near the on screen scoreboard. Healy and Healey did a good job with the broadcast and the ESPN Axis technology is always stunning. There was surprisingly little mention of the ESPN2 broadcast of the Red Bulls/RSL game. The USA match represented an important opportunity for MLS to put its broadcast before the much larger US Soccer audience. While MLS had spots during the game featuring Becks, Angel and GBS, little was done to promote the following MLS match. ESPN did promote its U-20 WC final.
Finally, ESPN concluded its USA coverage with a nice montage of qualifying, but the lead in to the MLS match was terrible. The game was hardly mentioned, some of the graphics were in Spanish and it wasn’t clear for a number of minutes that the “pre-game” show was for MLS. While the broadcast quality was outstanding (and included some in-game ads), the transition was a wasted opportunity for both MLS and ESPN. This is too bad because few teams in MLS playsoccer as aesthicaly pleasing as RSL, especially at Rio Tinto.
As an aside, check out this outsanding piece on Portland’s entry into MLS as an expansion team from Major League Soccer Talk.