Soccer Business Bits: New BMO, Big TV Ratings & Stadium News

We’re not as against turf fields as many, but there is no doubt that MLS raises its stature and increases its chance of success as a business (by attracting those who are put off by such fields), when it converts to grass.  Such is the case in Toronto, where Field Turf is no longer and grass is on the way.  The new field will feature a state of the art system that will vaccum water out from under the field and keep the grass in great condition even during the cold weather.  The project will cost in excess of $5million.

Spanish language ratings from MLS Cup 2009 on Galavision are in and the news is quite good. Almost 500,000 watched the match on Galavision. When that number is combined with the ESPN rating for the same night, the numbers indicated that more than 1.5 million peopled watched the final.

The Wizards’ effort to build a stadium is continuing to move forward.  For those who don’t remember, the Wizards have turned their attention to Kansas as part of an effort to combine the stadium with the construction of a facility for the company Cerner. 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 this article, Kansas has now offered to add more of the money up front.  Kansas is fighting with Missouri (the Bannister Mall project) to host the stadium.

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.