Soccer Business Bits: Soccer in Primetime, NBC Promotion & TV Ratings

The United States National Team squared off against Brazil on Wednesday night and the match was televised on ESPN2.  The game broadcast featured Ian Darke and Taylor Twellman, ESPN’s primary international team.  The pairing of Darke and Twellman makes for an interesting contrast with NBC’s primary broadcast team of Arlo White and Kyle Martino.  Both teams feature a British lead voice paired with an American color commentator retired from MLS.  Twellman has become the rising star of American soccer broadcasts, anchoring ESPN’s MLS and International coverage.  Darke’s presence is more occasional, but he is the consummate professional and a welcome voice to American soccer fans.  White and Martino have become fixtures for fans of the American domestic league and both provide steady work and solid insights.  It was interesting to see the Bob Ley/Kasey Keller/Alexi Lalas combination in the ESPN studio.  Keller did an effective job in his new roll as analyst.

Keeping with the television team, it was interesting to note that NBC coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the broadcast network for the finals between New Jersey and Los Angeles.  NBC has done an effective job of promoting it soccer properties during the hockey playoffs and the ability to MLS showcased on NBC is one of the biggest benefits of the league’s relationship with the Peacock.  Although ratings in the first year of the deal have been fairly stagnant, the league has achieved great visibility due to NBC’s aggressive promotion of the beautiful game.

Finally, according to SBJ’s John Ouerand, NBCSN’s ratings for the weekend were particularly dismal, with the league failing to crack 75k in either of its games.  The Saturday night USMNT broadcast fared much better with more than 220k viewers.