Soccer Business Bits: Flying to Seattle, ESPN News & More

Just a couple of quick hits today:

Kudos to RSL for arranging a $300 non-stop flight for RSL fans from Salt Lake City to Seattle for the big game.  The best part?  The flight will be on the RSL branded plane. Other one-stop flights are available at $99 per flight.

ESPN has announced its broadcast plans for the game and lead-up to to the match. Highlights inclulde an ESPN Classic presentation on the lead-up to the Cup and notifcation that the broadcast will be seen in 122 countries.  Perhaps most interesting, the article also notes that the Galaxy/Dynamo Conference Final, despite the 11:25 start tine and and 36 minutes of power delays, was the most watched MLS broadcast in ESPN history, with more than 700,000 viewers and a .5 rating. These numbers do not include an additional 120,000 on ESPN Deportes.

Finally, Red Bull Arena has been announced as a host site for the Football World Series.  The four team tournament will take place in the Summer of 2010 and will include a number of prominent world club teams.  The Red Bulls will be one of the teams involved.

 

 

Soccer Business Bits: More TV Ratings, Fight for the Wizards, Playoff Attendance and Scarves

wozardsWe wrote last week about the uptick in MLS attendance on both ESPN2 and Fox Soccer Channel.  Now comes a report that MLS viewership is up almost 90% from October 2008 to October 2009.  Total viewers for the FSC game of the week is just over 51k for the Saturday night match.  Perhaps most importantly, the increased viewership for FSC across all of its shows has allowed the network to add an array of new, higher end ad buys.  While ProActiv won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, higher end adds are an important sign of health for FSC, as they prepare to unveil HD broadcasts in the coming months.

In Kansas, the Wizards’ new stadium plan has news because of the job creation aspect of the deal.  According to this article from the AP, the Cerner-Wizards deal may create 9,000 jobs in Kansas and politicians on both sides of the aisle are eager to make the deal happen.  Kansas and the local county have offered $230 million in incentives to lure Cerner and the Wizards to Kansas.  According to the story, Kansas politicians are concerned that officials in Missouri are working to lure the deal back across the border.

Yesterday, we touched on playoff attendance.  For a more comprehensive look at post season attendance, click on this chart from Major League Soccer Talk.

Finally, Ruffneck Scarves has announced a furtherance of its partnership with MLS and its clubs.  According to this press release, Ruffneck will produce five unique scarves for each team.

Soccer Business Bits: MLS TV Ratings Climbing

soccertvTV contracts are the financial life blood of professional sports leagues, and MLS is no different.  While the League relies on multiple sources of revenue, the ultimate goal is to generate substantial rights fees from television partners. The amount MLS can earn from those rights fees are largely determined by ratings (and the packaging of FIFA properties owned by SUM).  MLS fans are keenly interested in the League’s ratings, and  The Sports Business Daily has provided some interesting information regarding 2009 ratings,

According to Austin Karp’s article, MLS ratings on ESPN2 were up almost 15%.  Most dramatic, were the ratings of Beckham’s Galaxy, who drew almost 420,00 viewers per match.   After Los Angeles, Seattle was the next biggest national television draw on ESPN2 broadcasts.   From July 25 until the end of the year, MLS averaged 319,00 viewers per game.  MLS also saw an increase on FSC, with an additional 13k tuning into MLS matches compared to 2008.  The actual number went from 51k to 64k.   The article is here.

These numbers are a great sign for MLS.  By way of comparison, MLS numbers fall right in the middle of ESPN2 numbers for EPL broadcasts. Overall, the numbers are actually more favorable for MLS if you average them out.  These numbers somewhat vindicate the ESPN decision to move the MLS game of the week around (something we opposed).   By way of comparison, these numbers are comparable to those of the NHL on versus, which averaged about 310,000 viewers per game last year.

As we have noted previously, ESPN has landed some outstanding matchups for the playoffs, including both Seattle and Los Angeles.  If the League and ESPN promote the games actively, there is a chance for an outanding rating on Thursday and Sunday.

Kaka, Ratings and More

milanYes it is true that we focus on the business of American Soccer here at footiebusiness, but when a transfer is so prominent that non-soccer fans are asking about it, it deserves a mention.  Real Madrid set a record with its record transfer purchase of Kaka from Italian Club AC Milan.  The $90 million transfer is approximately $15 million  more than than the $75.1 million transfer of Zidane to Real Madrid from Juventus.  The record had stood for almost a decade and now it has been shattered by the 27 year old Brazilian (although not shattering the record in Euros because of exchange rates).  For purposes of comparison, recall that the record transfer for an American is the $10 million paid by Villareal to secure Jozy Altidore’s services from New York.

From a business perspective, what makes these huge transfers interesting is the ripple effect.  AC Milan now has plenty of money to spread around to smaller clubs to purchase their rising stars.  In turn, these clubs will spend some of that money and down the line we go.  Interestingly, part of Kaka’s motivation for agreeing to the transfer is to help the financial stability of its old club.  Kaka had turned down a mid-season transfer to Manchester City for $100 million because he wanted to stay at AC Milan.  Now, because of the economic climate, he felt he could help his old club by leaving.  Interesting.

ESPN’s broadcast of the US/Costa Rica broadcast did not crack the cable top 20 last week (getting beat by Sponge Bob and John & Kate Plus 8 among others).  This is disappointing because US Men’s games tend to do well and the Costa Rica match was in prime time.  At the same time, the Sports Business Journal is reporting that MLS ratings on ESPN have remained flat this year at the .2 level.  For reference, this generally means just over 200k homes.  These numbers are disappointing, yet it appears that the new ESPN policy of changing nights for the MLS game of the week has had no impact on ratings  .2 has been the MLS rating for a number of years.

Finally, Toronto has announced its plans for Real Madrid ticket sales.  First pre-sale opportunities are going to season ticket holders followed by fans on the season ticket waiting lists.  Tickets will range from $140-$215 (Canadian), a steep price in a League where season tickets go for not much more than that.  There will be a small discount for season ticket holders.tfc Kaka will likely play in Toronto before Spain.