Monday After: Week Two

Light docket in MLS this weekend with only 5 games Th-Sa.  Before we get to those matches, a couple of other quick business points.  First, we gave MatchDay live another chance, but couldn’t see any games in real time.  The only non-nationally televised game was the Revs/United match which was blacked out in the Hartford area (also blacked out on Direct Kick). Thus, we couldn’t try the service this weekend.  However, kudos to MLS for having readily available live chat support during the broadcast.  This made it quite easy to cancel our subscription.

While the game was shown on Comcast Sports Net New England (a channel available in CT), in the Hartford area, CSN gets usurped by Knicks/Rangers games on the Madison Square Garden network. Thus, even though the “info” screen reads MLS: Revolution v. DC United, Comcast switches the feed to the MSG feed.  Thus, no Revs (except on the HD feed).

Attendance wise, it was solid week around the league.  The Thursday night doubleheader started with 18k in Houston for the Dynamo’s 2-1 victory over RSL.  Later than night, just under 20k saw Chivas fall to the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.  Both games were on ESPN2.  The weekend matches started in Commerce City, CO where 11,600 watched the Rapids and Fire play to a 2-2 draw.  On Saturday night, an impressive 20,600 were on hand for the Revs suprising victory in DC.  Finally, a ho-hum 36k saw a the thrilling Red Bulls/Sounders game.  The DC number was especially impressive and was aided by good weather and the addition of an El Salvadoran midfielder.

Next week will likely be a tougher week for the average, but the openers in Chicago and Philly will hopefully draw well.

Business Bits: Expansion in St. Louis & the Monday After

st-louisWith MLS announcing Portland as the League’s 18th Expansion Franchise, St. Louis appeared to be the big loser.   Since the announcement, Commissioner Garber worked hard to dispel that belief.  In an article published in the in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mr. Garber indicated that the League would work hard to steer investors to join Jeffrey Cooper’s bid.  We have written about Mr. Cooper’s bid before, and noted the League’s frustration with the lack of financial backing; it appears that the League is now going to work hard on Mr. Cooper’s behalf.

Mr. Cooper is a bridesmaid again, despite a solid stadium deal and a city with a strong soccer history.  With one more round of expansion scheduled for the coming years, he is running out of time to cement a team for the Gateway City.

Week one of MLS action is complete, and League wide, attendance was just OK.  Houston, Dallas and Chivas brought in about 16k, while KC and San Jose sold out their smaller parks.  Seattle was a sell out on Thursday night with more than 32k and the Galaxy brought in 18k (probably the most disappointing number of the weekend) for the Sunday game.   The Crew/Dynamo match-up of the last two Cup winners was also surprisingly lightly attended.  Dallas was higher than anticipated, but the presence of Blanco may have been a contributing factor.

The League debuted their new MLSlive features this weekend and the product seemed to work well.  For less than $20 for the season, the package is a fantastic bargain.  Direct Kick was free this weekend as part of the League’s annual preview.  With the price again at $79 for the season, this is also a great deal.  These packages do not include the games broadcast nationally on ESPN, FSC and Telefutura.  Interstingly, the local broadcasts prominently displayed advertising in the upper corners of the screens, adspace not used by EPSN2.  For the matchup on Telefutura, occassional screen advertising was present, but only for infrequent interludes.  Gildden, Nakita and Addidas were among the prominent stadium signage around the League. mls

T.V. Tibits: MLS announces Direct Kick 2009

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According to a League press release, MLS has announced the 2009 Direct Package.  The 2009 version will provide up to 130 matches during the MLS season for a flat rate of $79.  Available through both cable and dish, the package will include playoff games and regional pre and post game shows.  The package does not include games televised on ESPN, FSC, ABC and Telefutura.  The package will be offered to commercial establishments for a flate rate of $100.

The package continues to offer great value to MLS fans.  Between the national television packages and Direct Kick, fans are provided a full slate of games from across the country and a peek into the voices and advertising of local markets. While production value is often lacking, it is fun to watch broadcasts from around the country. 

In other TV news, it was recently announced that Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment has purchased an 80% stake in GolTV Canada. The purchase was designed to expand MLSE’s penetration into soccer television while providing TFC with its own broadcast outlet.  Like its American counterpart,  GolTV Canada broadcasts matches from European and South American Leagues.

Interestingly, the network does not yet have MLS broadcast rights.  However, the Nutrilite Canadian Championship and CONCACAF Championship will featured on the network.  The station is exploring such broadcasts and intends to offer shows covering TFC and MLS to its schedule.  TFC already does an oustanding job with broadcasts through its website.  Using GolTV’s platform seems like a great next step to expand TFC’s footprint throughout Canada.