Devotees of Major League Soccer know Chris Schlosser as the Dean of MLS Digital Programs and a regular presence on Twitter. Official he is the Vice President of Digital Media. Before joining MLS he held various positions at MSN and is a graduate of Columbia University Business School and Colby College.
Mr. Schlosser was kind enough to respond to some questions from Footiebusiness about MLS Live, including the Stream of the Week promotion, problems with streaming speed and popularity of the service. Mr. Schlosser also answered some questions about Direct Kick, league blackouts and MLS Digital. Thanks to Mr. Schlosser; his thoughts are below.
MLS Digital has seen significant growth since it’s creation in 2010, with 2013 poised to become another great year of growth across the digital business. MLSsoccer is setting records for audience growth, revenue and engagement. Our product team has been busy over the 12 months with the release of a new MLSsoccer homepage, upgraded match center, enhanced mobile applications, new Apple TV application and continued upgrades to our video and streaming products. Similarly, our content teams have provided deeper, more in-depth coverage with the launch of long for series like “The Word”, new premium video programming and continued innovation in social media.
Stream of the week is a way for MLS to engage with our young digitally savvy fans; each week my team works to select a compelling match for the fans to watch free of charge. The free stream helped bring live soccer to new fans, generated sponsor revenue and provided a great platform to up-sell fans on our full subscription offering.
MLS Live and Direct Kick are roughly the same size from an audience size, however, our digital offerings have been growing faster over the last several years which is a trend I would expect to continue as bandwidth continues to increase and the number of devices that allow for easy streaming of content across a range of screen size proliferate.
Social media is a key focus across all of MLS. Amanda Vandervort who leads social media for the League is working across our organization to drive innovation and to find new ways to ingrate social tools into our events, sponsorships, digital experiences and office culture. We love that social media allows for a direct connection between the League, Clubs, Players, Executives and Fans. One key element of social media is speed and we are working across the digital product suite to find ways to speed up our operations. This includes match center updates, game data availability, highlights, articles, etc.
MLS Live is a great value for fans, for $60 per season fans get access to over 230 live games, plus access to every game from the last four years in our archive. We are also working with our streaming partners to constantly improve and optimize our streaming experiences. Mark McClure who joined my team earlier this year after several years at DC United is leading this charge for us. You can already see the fruits of his efforts with the release of the new Apple TV application earlier this fall.
While we are working to optimize our products there will always be some lag in our streams given the need to manage satellite & fiber connections, encoding and delivery across multiple devices. Similarly, given our television contracts we will likely see blackouts for national and local games continue into the future. One big change however, is that our tv partners are starting to provide digital access to their games. MLS fans can currently watch national broadcasts on ESPN3 and NBC Sports Extra. We are also working to create tools to make blackouts easier to understand for fans, on the MLS Live website the schedule page will show you which games are blacked out specifically for your location.
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