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.

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  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.

Monday After

Back to a full slate of games in Major League Soccer after a break for international competition.  Before we get to the attendance, here are a couple of business items from the weekend.   We’ll start on television, where the broadcast version of NBC made its debut on Saturday afternoon.  The network did a great job with the telecast and everything about the broadcast screamed professionalism.  Unfortunately for the network, the game was a bit of a snoozer in the first half, but the repeated crowd shots, and stadium volume made for a great backdrop.  The ratings aren’t out for the NBC match, but reports indicate that the USA/Jamaica game on ESPN2 drew just under one million viewers.  Not bad for a mid-week soccer game, but when compared to the almost 4 million that watched Mexco/Cost Rica on Univision…. (thanks to Soccer America for the numbers).

On to attendance, where the week started slowly, courtesy of a sub-15k crowd at struggling Toronto.  Every bad crowd at BMO leads to excessive hand wringing from pundits about the team’s on the field incompetence finally hurting the gate.   SKC had a solid crowd on Saturday with just shy of 20k in attendance for the nationally televised match.   That same night, the Galaxy nudged past 20k for their home victory.

TFC followed its weak mid-week crowd with less than 16k on the weekend.  A 20k+ sellout in Portland provided the raucous background for NBC’s first telecast..   17k plus were treated to Henry’s glorious goal at Red Bull Arena on Saturday, while DC United crept past 15k for their important home victory over the Revs.   Surging Chicago managed more than 17,500 for their Saturday night match at Toyota Park,  a figure equaled in Dallas for their riveting Saturday night affair.  Chivas USA finished out the night with a paltry 11k plus.

Soccer Business Bits: NBC Takes Center Stage, Hello Brazil & More

The long awaited debut of Major League Soccer on the broadcast network of NBC is set for this coming Saturday.  On paper the game presents a match-up at teams at opposite ends of the table. However, as a showpiece match for the network, the Cascadia Cup game presents an outstanding spectacle for broadcast television.  NBC can be certain of big crowds, great atmosphere and great theater.  With the game scheduled for Portland, NBC will also hope for big numbers watching the game from televisions throughout the Seattle area.  The Peacock has been a great addition to the MLS roster of partners and the upcoming broadcast showcases should provide a great way to end the season.  The mid-afternoon start time will likely have a negative impact on ratings, as will competition from NCAA football, but viewership will certainly bear watching.

Brazil is getting ready for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  Christopher Hunt of CNNSI has a great look at preparations in that country and the soccer culture that is seemingly everywhere.  Hunt took in some matches, looked at the stadiums and commented on the status of stadium construction as June 2014 creeps closer.  With the World Cup and Olympics headed to Brazil over the next four years, the South American country will become familiar to American sports fans.  Hunt’s piece provides some nice insight into the nation as it prepares for its moments in the sun.

Finally, there is the strange story of David Beckham and Alexi Lalas purportedly joining forces to purchase a Spanish soccer team.   The former Galaxy GM and current star midfielder are apparently considering buying a controlling stake in FC Malaga.   From an MLS perspective, the story is interesting because of the long held suspicion that Beckham would be involved in purchasing an MLS franchise when his career ends.  What impact this possible buy would have upon that effort is unknown.


Top Jersey Sellers

Major League Soccer released its list of top jersey sellers today, and the top two names on the list are no surprise.  Galaxy midfielder and household name David Beckham continues to prove his popularity and value to the league by topping the list yet again.  While this is the first time the league has released its top 25 jersey sellers, Beckham’s longterm popularity is well known.  The second name on the list is Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry.  The full list, courtesy of, is here.

Behind the two Europeans sits the most well known American player, Landon Donvan. For years, Donovan has been the most well known American player, and his place on this list bears that out.  Fredy Montero lands in the fourth spot on the list, the first player from the Pacific Northwest and the first South American.  The mult-national nature of the league continues with longtime veteran and Canadian International Dwayne DeRosario.  The DC United star has moved around in his career, but his popularity remains.

Perhaps in a sign that the league has grown, San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski is next on the list, despite neither being an international star nor a designated player.  The American just scores goals.  Recently added Australian Tim Cahill has raced to seventh spot in a very short time.   He is the second Red Bull on the list.  Irishman Robbie Keane is the third Galaxy player to hit the top ten.  Mauro Rosales is surprise entrant, seemingly proving the popularity of Seattle. Brian Ching is the first Dynamo player and the third American on the list.

The rest of the list is loaded with Pacific Northwest players, a Union double (thanks Freddy Adu) and a surprise appearance from Saer Sene of New England.