Monday After

Goals galore in Major League Soccer this weekend, with the notable exception of the highly promoted and nationally televised Vancouver/Seattle match.  That game was one of two NBC Sports Network games broadcast over the weekend, including the Friday evening match from Kansas City.  Before we get to the attendance picture, here are a couple of other business items from the last couple of days.

The NBCSCN game from Vancouver was preceded by another MLS 36 episode on the network.  This ongoing excellent series (although personally I think each episode has been slightly less interesting than the last), focuses on the life of a particular player in the 36 hours leading up to a game televised by NBCSN.  In addition to the recent Darlington Nagbe broadcast, there was also a Wondo version featuring the lead-up to the All Star Game, a Montero version focusing on Chelsea and a DeRo version as well.  As the Oregonian points out, Nagbe was also featured in advertisement for FIFA ’13.

On to attendance, where the Friday night game featured a record setting crowd in excess of 21k at LiveStrong Sporting Park.  Kansas City continues to impress in their new digs and their rise from downtrodden to model franchise.  On Saturday night the big crowds continued, with an enormous crowd in excess of 25k at Red Bull Arena for an exciting New York victory. In Houston, the rain kept the crowds away, but with tickets already sold, the reported crowd was in excess of 22k.  In Vancouver a sell out of 21k was reported for the Cascadia Cup match.  Columbus managed a crowd of just over 14k for their home date at Crew Stadium.

Portland managed their usual 20k plus while Chivas failed to clear the 12k hurdle at the Home Depot Center.  San Jose managed its usual disappointing crowd of just over 10k because of the attendance limit at the stadium.

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Soccer Business Bits: Revs Gets a Sponsor, FIFA Flies & Hamas

The New England Revolution announced a new sponsorship partnership making Sovereign |  Santander the official bank of the New England Revolution.  The team is the bank’s first American sports partnership.   The partnership will include the somewhat unique component of an official tagline defining the relationship between the team and bank.  According to the press release, also includes day-of-game sponsorships; on-site game day programs; community clinics run by the Revolution Academy and Revs players; naming rights for the team’s official “Man of the Match” award; on-field advertising during Revolution matches; away game trips; as well as television broadcast, radio broadcast, print and digital inventory.”   Pele is the official soccer voice of the bank and he was on hand as part of the announcement.   It is noteworthy that the quotes distributed as part of the press release from the Revs perspective came from Robert Kraft and not one of the team front office representatives.

Elsewhere, Electronic Arts issued a press release that the first day of FIFA 13 sales topped 350,000 which is up more than 40% year over year.  In the first 24 hours online, more than 1.4 million online games of FIFA 13 were played.  According to the press release, “It was also a record-setting opening for FIFA Soccer 13 on iOS around the world. FIFA Soccer 13 for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad achieved the biggest launch-day performance of any EA iOS game in history, with downloads up 62 percent over last year. FIFA Soccer 13 also hit No. 1 in Top Paid Games in 55 countries and No. 1 in Top Grossing Games in 24 countries on the App Store.”

One final note.  Hamas is enforcing a media boycott of Barcelona after the team game a complimentary ticket to Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier that was held captive for a number of years by militants in the Gaza Strip.  As a result, no television or radio stations will broadcast Barcelona games and no newspapers will cover the games.

 

NASL Business: The Scorpions

Apologies for the lack of posts over the last few days.  Some technical issues with WordPress (likely combined with some user error), have consigned a number of engaging and landmark posts to the dustbin.  Tonight was supposed to be about the business success of the NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions, including their almost 10k average attendance, coming new stadium (Toyota Park), on the field success.
There was also a bit about adding some more coverage of the NASL and some of the other business success stories.  Alas, that was not to be, but for those interested in a stadium camera of the ongoing construction at Toyota Field (which is part of a sprawling theme park), click here (it it works).  According to the team’s website talking about the facility, “Toyota support for the Scorpions will be visible in multiple communications initiatives for the team. Capable of expansion in stages to 18,000 seats.”

The post ended with a request for e-mails or comments from those of you that are fans of the NASL and have some thoughts on some of the business aspects of that league.

Monday After

Great weekend of soccer in the United States. Before we get to the attendance numbers, a couple ownership related business stories made headlines over the weekend.  The first involves the potential sale of the Houston Dynamo to Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander.  The much discussed potential sale  included both the team and the lease for BBVA Compass Stadium.  According to reports, the sale was to include the entire ownership interest in the team including the portions owned by AEG,  Oscar De Le Hoya and a third partner.  However, it is now being reported that AEG has rejected the deal.  Whether the company made this decision because of its efforts to sell its entire portfolio of holdings is unknown.  With the recent completion of their downtown stadium, solid attendance and consistent on the field success, the Dynamo seem well positioned for a sale.  However, a new buyer will now have to be found.

Speaking of AEG, the LA Times is reporting the richest man in Los Angeles, Patrick Soon-Shiong, is a strong possibility for the new AEG owner.  The article suggests that he is worth more than $7 billion.

On to attendance, where the Red Bulls started the league week with a paltry crowd of less than 11k.  The mid-week schedule continued, with almost 14k in Columbus at Crew Stadium.  Struggling Philly just got past the 16k mark for their mid-week match.

On Saturday, Montreal managed yet another 20k plus sellout as their numbers continue to impress after a rough start at Stade Saputo.  The Red Bulls’ visit to Foxboro managed to draw a remarkable 24k for the Revolution, while surging Chicago continues its impressive run at the gate with more than 19k.  The big numbers continued with a 27k sellout at the Home Depot Center for the Galaxy and a sold out Rio Tinto drawing in excess of 20k in Salt Lake City.  Seattle fell just short of 39k with another great crowd.

On Sunday, the second PPL match of the week managed to draw more than 16,500 in Philly while DC managed a paltry crowd of less than 12k at RFK.

Selling Tickets in MLS

Just a couple of quick hitters tonight on Major League Soccer promotional efforts from teams around the league.  We’ll start in New England, where the Revs are offering a promotional package in recognition of the team’s Hispanic Heritage Night.   The four pack of tickets comes matched with four sodas and four nachos grande.   The promotion is built around the team’s home date with the New York Red Bulls.  Ticket prices range from $21-$35 and requires the payment of an $8 order fee.

On Thursday night, the Philadelphia Union host DC United at PPL Park.  The team has paired the nationally televised contest with a couple of themes aimed at increasing attendance.  The team is offering dollar hot dogs on Thursday and pairing that promotion with a college night that seemingly includes no discount for college fans.  As part of the theme of the evening, the team is hosting a pediatric cancer awareness night and donating some of the ticket proceeds to a worthy cause.  The Union continue that theme for their next home game with an ovarian cancer awareness night.  That same Sunday night game includes discounts for boy scouts and a number of other honors for scouts at the game.

One final note from surging Chicago, which is offering an ongoing family promotion.  The deal offers four tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas for prices starting at $79.

 

Soccer Business Bits: AEG for Sale?; Gulati Talks & More

AEG, long a central player in the American soccer scene, is reportedly up for sale, according to multiple reports from across the country.  Over the years, AEG has owned multiple Major League Soccer franchises, including the showpiece Los Angeles Galaxy, while retaining interests in concert venues, stadiums and concert promoter Live-Nation.  The press release issued by the company states:

“The Anschutz Company and AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Company, today announced that the Anschutz Company is commencing a process to sell AEG. AEG is one of the most highly regarded worldwide live entertainment and sports platforms, anchored by a unique real estate model that has brought about a transformational effect on major cities throughout the world.”  The release goes on to mention a number of AEG held properties, including the Galaxy.  Given the value of the various components of AEG, the sale price will likely launch into the multi-billions of dollars.

US Soccer President Sunil Gulati spent some time with the New York Times discussing some big issues related to womens soccer in the United States.  Of note from the business side is the ongoing effort to build a new soccer league in the United States.  According to Gulati, he met with a group of investors interested in such a league, including current MLS investors.  Per the article, the most interesting aspect of the meeting (other than the aggressive proposal to start this coming Spring), is the inclusion of the Canadian Federation in the discussions.  Despite the increase in travel, the inclusion of Canadian sides could provide economic and attendance support for the league.

Finally, Philly Union rookie Amobi Okugo is now writing a blog for goal.com.  Since the title suggests he will be covering the business side of soccer from a player’s perspective, it seems to be an appropriate link to send your way.  Click here to read the first post.

 

Nielsen Ratings: What it all Means

The Sports Business Journal (courtesy of John Ourand), tweeted that the Timbers/Sounders broadcast on NBC earned a .4 rating on Saturday afternoon.  Translated into total viewers, the rating probably equals more than 600k and less than 800k.  Overall, this is a fairly disappointing result for the first game on NBC.   Because soccer fans are especially attuned to ratings and viewership numbers, we thought it would be worth spending some time on a primer on ratings.  The numbers typically come in either total viewers or ratings.  Sometimes they get broken down into demo (e.g. age or gender).

The denizens of BigSoccer have calculated (and they do a great job tracking this) that the telecasts on NBCSN are averaging 133k viewers, while ESPN2 games just shy of 250k viewers  while the ESPN matches are a bit short of 500k.  For those interested in Spanish language numbers, the numbers are just shy of 60k.

So what does it mean? TV By the Numbers has a great chart here looking at how the figures get broken down.   The validity of the numbers are always disputed by people with a vested interest in the figures. The Nielsen system is a tried and true method of evaluating television viewership.  Nielsen typically relies upon viewer diaries and set-top boxes.  In addition to ratings, viewership is also recorded by way of a share, which is a measurement of the percentage of televisions tuned into a particular program.
Over time the company has tried to modify its metrics to account for DVR viewing and other technological advances.

However, whatever the accuracy of the ratings, there is no doubting the importance of the data when setting price points for ad buys and tracking the popularity of leagues.  MLS attendance continues to show great strength, but television money is the financial key to growing the league.