Business Notes for the Upcoming Season

Every season the Sports Business Journal provides an excellent in-depth look at the upcoming Major League Soccer season.  A link to the excellent grouping of stories is here. The lead story is about the new relationship between NBC and MLS.

In August MLS and NBC  announced a three year television rights agreement that will put Major League Soccer on the Peacock and its affiliated sports channel from 2012-2014.  The three year deal is worth an estimated 10 million dollars per year.  SBJ reports that NBC will focus on creating “household names” that American sports fans will identify.  The network also announced that Kyle Martino will serve as Arlo White’s analyst for matches on the NBC Sports Network and NBC.  Interestingly, NBC will have Martino stationed down on the field “between the benches” to provide field-side commentary rather than analysis from the booth.  While innovative, this seems like a bad idea by the league’s new partner unless Martino offers only occasional insights from his sideline location.

Last year, for the first time, MLS teams were free to sell their own local rights in certain sponsorship categories.  Last Fall, SBJ  reported that a large number of MLS franchises have inked deals with league sponsors Pepsi and Budweiser for local rights, while seven have signed with other brewers and more than a handful have signed deals with Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola.   In its in-depth look, SBJ notes that the deals with brewers are going for $250-$300k per year for the MLS teams.  it is interesting to note that some teams have looked to local brewers for partnerships and as a way to further promote close ties with local businesses.  One such deal was announced on Monday by Sporting Kansas City.  The team has paired with Boulevard Brewing Company, a local brewery on a season long cross promotional campaign. The agreement includes Boulevard themed tickets, product launches at Livestrong Sporting Park and more.