Soccer Business Bits: Cosmos Sponsor, EPL TV Ratings & More

FSCWith Major League Soccer moving full speed ahead with its second New York franchise the promotion happy Cosmos were briefly pushed into the background despite their aggressive attempts to seek the spotlight.  That changed on Monday, with the highly publicized announcement that the team had signed a sponsorship agreement with Emirates Airline.  Emirates will be feature on the Cosmos jersey and the big news was released at a press conference with honorary league President Pele in attendance.  The Cosmos start play on August 3 at their temporary home at Hofstra University on Long Island.

Last week the story broke that ratings for ESPN’s EPL broadcast had dropped significantly.  The early morning weekend staple averaged just over 250,000 viewers over 51 games during the 2012/2013 season.  This represents a significant decline from the 320k the broadcasts had averaged during the previous season. Recall that NBC announced  that it will be come the new television home of the EPL beginning in August thanks to a $250 million deal for three years of exclusivity.  If this purchase represents a declining property, the EPL could represent yet another soccer property that fails to deliver significant returns. Whether the decline is due to a lack of interest in EPL, a lack of competition or a network (ESPN) with lessened motivation to televise the games, the downward trend is troubling.

Finally, it was announced on Tuesday that Fox and ESPN will have joint rights to broadcast World Cup and Euro Qualifiers for the next several years.  According to Johnathan Tannewald, “Fox and ESPN will each have rights to 129 Euro 2016 qualifiers, 129 World Cup 2018 qualifiers and 15 friendlies between 2014 and 2018.”