Before we delve into the MLS off season, here are some business notes from MLS Cup and the entire soccer weekend. We’ll start with the MLS Cup overnight rating, which was reported by SBJ on Twitter as a .8. To put that number in perspective, the .8 is double the 2010 rating but slightly less than the 2009 rating. The .8 is only an “overnight” rating which means only major metropolitan areas are calculated. The same source reported that Los Angeles locally drew a 1.5 rating for the game. The Houston Chronicle reported that the game drew a 2.8 local number in Houston. None of these numbers include Spanish broadcasts.
In broadcast news, Grant Wahl of SI reported that MLS Cup was John Harkes’ swan song in the ESPN booth. According to Wahl’s story, Harkes will be replaced by current ESPN personality and Philly Union broadcaster Taylor Twellman. Following his retirement from the Revolution because of concussion related issues, Twellman has quickly risen through the broadcast ranks and now earns the plum assignment next to Ian Darke. The SI report also offers thoughts on the NBC booth.
Other big news from the weekend included the announcement that MLS is moving its final to the home ground of the highest seeded team. While some fans cheer the move, the change from a long planned neutral site game will create difficulty for sponsors seeking to activate around the event. Also, some of the traditional events, including parties, supporters summit and more will be impacted by the inability to plan for the Final. At the same time, the move may ensure a lively crowd and substantial local media coverage of the game.