Soccer Business Bits: Championship Events, San Jose Change & More

The SBJ is reporting on the myriad of events presented by MLS at the upcoming  MLS Cup in Toronto.  As in past years, there will be industry events, fan evens and more.  Home Depot and VW will be the biggest sponsors of those events.  Visa and EA Sports will also offer fan events, including a $10,000 FIFA ’11 tournament.  While many fans have railed against the MLS playoffs in hopes that the league will move to a standard single table approach, the MLS Cup continues to increase in importance as a centerpiece for the league.  The game provides a central location for fans, sponsors and league officials to gather for a singular event that is the focus of much of the league’s business and sponsorship efforts.

Centerline Soccer offers a new interview with new Earthquakes president David Kaval.  Kaval was the former CEO of the Golden Baseball League.  Centerline’s interview provides some interesting insight into Kaval’s vision for the club, including sponsorships and stadium plans.

Finally, FSC has announced plans to streamline its schedule, including primetime EPL matches and a change to Kyle Martino’s show (it will now be at 11:00 pm on Mondays).  There will continue to be MLS matches, college games and plenty of Serie A and Chanpions League broadcasts.

The Monday After

It was a big attendance weekend in MLS capped by more than 36k in Seattle and record setting 20k plus in Salt Lake City.  Philly brought more than 18k to PPK Park (significantly out drawing the USMNT match from earlier in the week), and the Revs rode a host of promotions and group sales to finish  out their home campaign with more than 18k.  The Galaxy posted a 27k sellout and the rest of the teams drew well enough to bring a total of more than 180k fans to MLS stadiums in week 29.  It was a great weekend for MLS at the gate and fans saw some compelling matchups.  The true sign of the league’s ability to capture fans (and prove that fans care about results rather than promotions), will be playoff attendance.  RSL and Seattle are likely locks for big playoff crowds, but we will closely watch the other teams to see if they can attract big numbers in the post-season.

Some other quick notes from the weekend.  Because this site is focused on the business of American Soccer, we have stayed away from the drama unfolding at Liverpool over the last few weeks. However, there is enough of a US connection that we thought it worth providing a link to this article discussing John Henry’s first trip to see his new team after acquring ownership this week.  While there may be more court battles to come, it is fairly remarkable that we have reached a stage in soccer when two American ownership groups are fighting over the rights to Liverpool.  Finally, we wrote last week about the efforts of TFC fans to get their voices heard by ownership.  Here is MLSE’s response.  Perhaps most interesting, are the comments under the letter.

Soccer Business Bits: Fans React, Middle America & More

I apologize for the lack of posts yesterday, some sickness is creeping through the office and I’ve been hit dead on by the bug.  Still trying to fight it off, but here are some business thoughts for the weekend.  We will start in Seattle and Toronto where the fans of both MLS clubs have made their feelings about their respective front offices known.  In Seattle, Sounders fans are upset about the scheduling of a friendly in the heat of the playoff chase.  In Toronto, long suffering TFC supporters are unhappy with price increases for the struggling franchises. A number of outlets have covered these stories, but the responses of the front offices are instructive and impressive. To read about the issues and get a sense of fan reaction, click here.

In other business news, the Mayor of Omaha announced his desire to bring an MLS team to Omaha, NE.  Absent an ownership group, soccer specific stadium and a recognized fan base, the possibility seems remote, but it is always interesting to see politicians angling for a franchise.  The pitch includes an existing stadium that is not an SSS.  This recalls an effort a few years back to bring a team to Tulsa and Oklahoma City, metro areas fairly similarly sized to Omaha.

Finally, this weekend represents the final home match of the season for a number of MLS teams.  Is your local franchise doing something special for fans and season ticket holders?  Giveaways, autographs, nothing?   Drop us a line in the comment section or at footibusiness@gmail.com to let us know.

 

Broadcast Blogging: US v Colombia

We haven’t broadcast blogged since the MLS All-Star game, so here is our take on the ESPN broadcast of the USA/Colombia broadcast.  Fortunately for soccer fans, the lead in for the match was SportsCenter, so the telecast started on time.  PPL Park looked empty during the intro and Healy/Harkes was something of a surprise choice. Julie Foudy was the sideline reporter for the match.  After some quick on site work from the booth team, Max Bretos took over with Alexi Lalas and Juan Pablo Angel.  Angel was a nice addition to the studio team and his inclusion shows some nice foresight by ESPN in preparing for the match.

The initial around of pregame advertisers included Gatorade, Travelers, Wendys, Castrol, Nike, VW, RentaCenter, Progressive and some local spots.  The broadcast returned to the studio with some excerpts from the excellent ESPN documentary “The Two Escobars”.  Having Harkes, Lalas and Angel in the studio and booth to discuss the incident was especially poignant. YP.com., VW, Progressive and local spots made up the next set of ads.

Typical advertisers including Bud, AT&T, Pepsi, Gatorade, Visa, Jose Cuervo and US Socce were among the sign board advertisers.     Gatorade was the first on screen spot in corner, followed by Dick’s.  ESPN started pumping its EPL coverage in the 23 minute. MLS got its first promo in the 31st minute.

The halftime show started with the studio show and not a series of ads..  Wendys, Gatorade, Allstate and local spots made up the first round of ads. The second segment of the the halftime show provided a nice look at MLS and the playoffs.  It was interesting to see Angel criticize the MLS playoff format and Lalas promote the Supporters Shield.  The third round of spots included Heineken and YP.com.  The third segment included an interesting statement from Angel about his future in New York.  RAC, Wendy’s, Gatorade, Travelers and local spots rounded out the ads.

 

SUM’s Advertising: Making Money on US Soccer

A while back we interviewed Chris Schlosser, then the Director of Digital Strategy for SUM, about SUM’s online advertising network.  During that interview, Schlosser said the following:  “There are lots of other ad networks out there but I can guarantee you that none of them have more experience or more focus on selling soccer. In addition to driving revenue we are working with a number of our partners on content sharing and joint marketing to grow the collective soccer audience. From a fans perspective the SUM Digital Network should over time provide significantly better content and features, as revenue grows it is our hope that this will enable our member sites to invest more money in content and features which will increase traffic and continue to drive value for both fans and the commercial community.”

In a recent article, the Sports Business Journal reported on the success of that network.  According to SBJ, the network reached 6 million viewers this year and that revenue has reached 7 figures, with the figure doubling this year.  SBJ also reported on some problems with the network, including limited ad variety and problems with its accounting system.  Nevertheless, the significant revenue generated by the network puts money in the pocket of SUM, the driving force behind American soccer. For our entire interview with Chris Schlosser, click here.  For the SBJ article, click here.

From a marketer’s perspective, the network offers one stop shopping for companies like VW and Castrol to put their message in front of American soccer fans.  Soccer fans have long been a target demographic of marketers because the typical American soccer fan is young and affluent.  SUM is uniquely positioned to connect these companies with fans of the beautiful game in the United States.

The Monday After

We’ll start our weekend recap in Chicago, where almost 32k saw an entertaining match between the US and Poland.  Soldier field was chosen as the venue for the match (rather than Toyota Park) and the additional capacity was important.  The crowd looked good and appeared to be a reasonable mix of Polish and US fans.  With respect to the broadcast, we are often critical of FSC, so we want to give them credit for a job well done.  The broadcast came off smoothly (other than an early error involving Jay Demeritt).  FSC did a good job pushing their MLS and EPL coverage.

Elsewhere, a standing room only crowd in Kansas City and almost 19k in Philly were attendance highlights. It will be interesting to see if the Philly/Galaxy outdraws the upcoming US friendly against Columbia at PPL Park.  New York also drew a reasonably strong crowd with more than 20k at Red Bull Arena. Although the crowd didn’t match the quality of the teams on the field, more than 20 thousand on a random Saturday in October is a good number.  In Dallas, on the field success has not translated to success at the gate.  Just over 10k were at Pizza Hut Park, a disappointing crowd for a team that had seen an uptick in attendance over the last few weeks.

We’ll leave with you with a link to this recent post by Jason Davis at MatchFit USA.  Davis discusses the business of soccer of blogging in great detail and talks about the various ways bloggers make money from their pursuits.  We don’t agree with everything in the piece, but it makes for a good read.

Season Ticket Promotions

With the season winding down, multiple teams in MLS are offering a variety of promotions to encourage season tickets holders to renew.  If you know of any such promotions in your area, please shoot us a line in the comments section or send an e-mail.  Here are a few of those promotions.  In Chicago, the Fire, are offering fans who renew before the end of the game Friday a chance to win a game worn jersey from one of the Fire’s starting 11.  Renewals need not happen at the game, but must occur before the end of the Friday home match.

In New England, the Revs offered a 30 day season ticket calendar.  For fans who renewed their tickets (at 2010 prices), before September 30, a chance was offered to enter into a drawing to win one of the prizes on the calendar.  Prizes ranged from road trips with the team to on field visits to pro shop discounts. Chivas is offering a similar package, but in October rather than September.  Chivas ran a similar program last year.

Other teams like DC and Kansas City are offering simple renewal options through their web pages.  United is offering a season ticket give away that also includes other United gear.