The Business of the Draft and League Networks

Just some ramblings tonight.  On Monday night I was flipping the remote when I stumbled across the MLB First Year Player Draft on the MLB Network.  I’m certainly not a frequent viewer of the station, but as a Mets fan (and yes the Santana no-hitter was an enormous moment in my personal sports history), I happened to catch the portion of the broadcast leading up to the Mets’ first pick and I was struck by the low quality of the telecast. The NFL is the master of the draft spectacle and has created a three day extravaganza which draws ratings that smash any MLS telecast, but the MLB draft included limited graphics, borderline on-air talent and the whole set appeared to be fabricated in a basement.

The MLS draft has traditionally been broadcast on ESPN2 as part of the league’s primary television contract.  The coverage has expanded over the years and last year there were 2 hours of coverage which subsequently moved to   I continue to believe that televising the SuperDraft is exceptionally important for the league.  Commissioner Garber has long talked about creating special moments, and the memory of seeing top picks receiving their scarf and shaking Garber’s hand will burn into the brains of fans, journalists and youth players.

As I watched the MLB draft, I started to imagine the possibility of a Major League Soccer channel.  The other major American sports have devoted networks that are typically available on the higher sports tiers.  However, unlike those other leagues, MLS faces competition from Fox Soccer, Gol, the new Al Jazeera channels and other soccer networks. Is there room for an MLS focused channel?  Is there enough programming?  Is there enough interest?  Would MLS be best served by combining with one of the other networks?

5 Responses

  1. I personally believe that an MLS dedicated channel would not work at the present time. I would however, like to see MLS become more centralized on one specific channel. Whether it be ESPN or NBC Sports, I would like to see one network focus more resources on promoting the league with more advertising and creating some sort of weekly show like NBC’s “NHL 36” or HBO’s “24/7”. On a side note, I am very pleased with MLS Live on Having the website create a more interesting and appealing halftime show should be the next step on improving MLS Live.

  2. I think the MLS is already ahead of the curve because it offers MLS Live. I would like to see the MLS Live offerings expand to include more content and shows, and not just live matches. Cord cutting is increasing every year, and younger audiences are forgoing cable all together. I see no reason for MLS to invest in a standalone cable, channel and have to negotiate with carriers to be broadcast, when they can stream on the web with their existing infrastructure.

  3. I believe that MLS Network will happen soon (3/4 years), perhaps in a system like NBA TV (joint-venture between NBA and Turner Sports), where the league associates itself with an existing broadcasting company, which is much more interesting, because each part maintains its core.
    In order to make your assets (players, teams, …) more appealing to average american sports fan, MLS needs to promote them to the level of superstars… this means more exposure, more exclusive contents,…
    Like NBA TV or NFL Network (NBA TV – Euroleague; NFL Network – AFL), MLS Network could caught more viewers by buying the broadcasting rights of other leagues, for example, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores, CONCACAF Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, …

  4. Not now, unless they collaborate with a company to make a channel (a la KickTV on Youtube) that shows soccer and gives MLS some limelight.

    I want to see what happens in the next MLS CBA which I think could be a game-changer in terms of the sport/league/TV and TV deals.

    Technically, if you think about it, Fox Soccer kinda filled that “MLS Network” role for MLS early on…

  5. Jason Bay is a machine for his team. He sure did come into his own for the Sox. That was a smart trade that they did. Its cool that hes from Clinton too. Good luck to them in the POs. |

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