Soccer Business Bits:MLS Retains New Consultant, Canadian Ratings

Tripp Mickle at the Sports Business Journal is reporting that Classic Sports and CSTV creator Brian Bedol has been retained by MLS to assist in planning the league’s broadcast and digital medial strategy.   Followers of the league’s tv relationships know that MLS’ longterm deal with FSC is expiring at the end of the season and its deal with ESPN is at the halfway point.  There have also been rumblings about a possible relationship with Versus to replace and/or supplement these earlier arrangements.

According to SBJ, Besol has a longterm friendship with MLS Commissioner Don Garber and MLS is his only consulting gig.  A Harvard MBA, Bedol also launched Court TV in 1990 and has been active in efforts to secure RSN relationships for individual franchises.  His involvement with MLS suggests that the leage may be exploring the possibility of an MLS channel.

The Star is reporting that the CBC”s most recent MLS telecast drew only 134,000 viewers, making it the 14th rated national sports program in Canada for the week.  The CBC deal expires in 2010, but with the upcoming entry of two more MLS franchises in Canada, it stands to reason that there will be a market for MLS broadcast rights. 

Finally, San Jose announced the signing of Brazilian (and former Hull) midfielder/forward Geovanni as the team’s first Designated Player.  This continues the DP trend in the league that has seen high profile players added in New York, DC, Seattle and elsewhere over the last few months.  Whether the signings will impact tv ratings and attendance remains to be seen.  However, the recent big crowds in Chicago and New York for games where multiple DPs are on the field suggest a bump.