The Monday After: Week One

One full week is in the books and as is our custom, here are our business hits from the first round of games.   Perhaps the biggest issue of the weekend was the continuing problems with MLSSoccer.com’s new Match Day Live.   Efforts to watch games live were consistently thwarted by freezing and re-sets.  Our own experience was similarly negative; efforts to watch the Friday night game online were repeatedly stymied.  There were also questions about how “free” the first two weeks of Match Day Live really are.   The free preview of Direct Kick went well and we were impressed by Allen Hopkins ability in the booth.

The website remains beset with problems.  Links lead to nowhere, content is still not updated for 2010 (2009 stats?) and the functionality is challenging.  Hopefully, the league will quickly move to fix some of the bigger problems.

With respect to attendance, the week started off quite well with more than 36k in Seattle for the First Kick opener despite a driving rain.  Chivas continued the good word, with more than 18k at the Home Depot Center for a 1-0 Rapids win.  In Dallas, barely 8k were at Pizza Hut Park for the Dynamo/FC Dallas matchup, a terrible number for a home opener.  In Columbus, a stronger (but still disappointing) 13,500 saw Columbus start with a 2-0 win over Toronto.

On Saturday night, the Red Bulls couldn’t quite muster a sell-out as just under 25k were at Red Bull Arena’s MLS debut.  KC played to 10,300 sell-out for their dominating performance over DC.  A similar 10,500 sell-out was also in San Jose where RSL went home the victor.  Finally, the weekend concluded with almost 22k at the Home Depot Center for the Galaxy victory over the Revs.

Overall, it was an unimpressive weekend for MLS attendance.  Dallas and Columbus posted poor numbers for the season opener, while Chivas, Los Angeles and Chivas did well.  The Red Bulls’ failure to sell-out was unfortunate, especially given recent efforts to promote the stadium.   Let us know your thoughts on the week’s attendance and atmosphere.

MLS announces deal with Brand Thunder

mlsMajor League Soccer recently announced a new relationship with Brand Thunder to provide fans with a customized a browsing experience, “tailored specifically to them.”   The high tech browsing “booms” will allow MLS fans to access video, news, blogs and more for whatever team or teams they choose. Patrick Murphy, the founder and CEO of Brand Thunder was kind enough to take a few minutes to chat with footiebusiness.com prior to the scheduled launch of the first MLS team site at the end of this month.

According to Mr. Murphy, the “beauty”  of Brand Thunder, “is that you are always connected… you can create a feed that is always updated, driving traffic back to the site.”  Traditionally, once a web user leaves mlsnet.com or a team site, they must click back to the site to view more content. Mr. Murphy said that when using Brand Thunder, the teams/League, “become part of the browser; who cares where your fan goes…you are always connected.”

Mr. Murphy would not disclose the terms of the deal between Brand Thunder and MLS, however  when asked about individual team readiness for the Brand Thunder experience,  he stated that “because some teams are more advanced than others, you are a going to see a mix.”  As of now, Brand Thunder works only with Firefox, but according to Mr. Murphy, “we are working on an IE solution.”  However, he feels that the target demographic for Brand Thunder and MLS, “is a higher percentage Firefox user.”

Over the next couple of weeks, footiebusiness.com will be taking a look at the League’s efforts to connect with hardcore supporters.  The relationship with Brand Thunder seems like an important step in that direction.  In recent years the League has made a push towards younger demographics (and away from families), and this is typically a tech savvy group.  Moreover, because soccer struggles for coverage from mainstream media outlets, a fully integrated web experience provides a a nice opportunity for the League to connect with its fans.  computer