Soccer Business Bits: Selling Tickets in MLS & Soccer Viewership Down

Major League Soccer announced the formation of the MLS National Sales Center to assist MLS teams with ticket sales and staffing.  The Center will offer a 45 day program that will graduate ticket sales professionals to employment with individual MLS teams.  The students will have the opportunity to craft sales strategies and get real life sales experience. “Ticket sales are the lifeblood of any professional sports team, and this new initiative will provide our clubs with a deeper and more talented pool of ticket sales professionals,” said MLS President Mark Abbott. “We believe the combination of classroom instruction and real-life sales experience will prepare these young men and women with the skills necessary to make an immediate impact when they join an MLS club.”

This is an innovative effort by MLS to improve ticket sales with a grass roots effort.  The willingness to invest in the Center seems like a great step towards improving attendance for comparatively little cost.  MLS teams will have a venue to trial ticketing initiatives and learn from the successful (and unsuccessful) campaigns developed in the new ticket sales incubator.

We reported yesterday on the fairly disappointing 1.1 rating earned by Fox for the Champions League Final. Now the Sports Business Journal is reporting that Fox Soccer Channel averaged 141,000 viewers for its cable Champions League matches.  This is significantly fewer viewers than ESPN last year.   However, the big news from the article is that MLS viewership on ESPN2 is down 23% this year over last year with about 193,000 viewers per game.  FSC ratings for MLS are reportedly flat in a year over year comparison.