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This is Part 2 (and maybe the final one) to our Part 1 on USA-Honduras WCQ TV Rights.
Well, we’re still digging over here at TSG. We’ll keep digging up until 10/10. Then we’ll take a vacation to the Kandui Island.
How deep have we dug? At this point, we’re looking through binoculars now, although we have not adjusted the focus and the view is still a little fuzzy. That’s where we are.
TSG had a few follow-ups this week with Media World, the company that is handling Media World’s close circuit distribution, a USMNT-devoted bar owner, and Traffic Sports USA.
Today’s conversation with the Vice President of Traffic Sports USA Enrique Sanz de Santamaria was by far the most illuminating from a background perspective. Sanz de Santamaria is responsible for TV Rights for Traffic Sports USA and is based out of Miami. Traffic Sports USA handles most of the broadcast rights distribution for games from Central and South America.
Every USMNT fan should remember that (“very long”) name above because Sanz had really no vested interest in speaking with TSG and if he is/was misquoted stands to lose more, yet he took the time to carefully lay out the landscape of broadcast rights management in the region, provide us some hypotheticals and, in general, educate TSG.
And an additional note on Traffic Sports USA, all those away 2010 US WCQ games that you’ve seen on ESPN was the results of deals through Traffic Sports.
A big thank you to Mr. Sanz from TSG and our readers.
Here’s what we learned that we didn’t know:
• Each National Federation controls the rights of their home games but all of them are under CONCACAF and FIFA.
• Traffic Sports USA had a legal dispute with the Honduras Federation over who had the rights to broadcast the game. A court ruling gave the Honduras Federation the right to keep the contract they have with Media World.
Now for the good stuff:
• It seems close circuit distribution is still a viable way to make good money on a TV broadcast, specifically when you analyze the number of Hondurans in the United States, the per establishment rate for a game, and the Hondurans passions for their country sport. (I would love some feedback from a bar whose primary demographic is Hondurans–it would be valuable to this story I believe)
• Residential PPV is actually a new model for distributing these games. Hence, our suggestion earlier this week that the game be made available via residential pay per view now comes at a discount, because the economics are not tried, tested and true. It’s more of a risk for the rights holder.
• Finally, Sanz surmises (and I must highlight surmises) that negotiations at this point between MediaPro and the TV Networks, given the close circuit efforts to date and the timing until the broadcast, are likely over. The past statement is, at best, a guess (though from someone who has been there) and should be received as such.
So where does that leave the USMNT fan? Probably at their local pub. Where does that leave the average under-21 fan who FIFA and should care about? SOL.
Thankfully, there are bar owners like Phil McFarland, who owns the Small Bar on Division Street in Chicago and is a very passionate supporter of the Yanks.
In our first plug since the Free Benny t-shirt endeavor, we’re promoting Phil’s bar for our Chicago readers come 10/10.
No, we don’t get a kickback, but you get to visit a bar where the owner is passionate about U.S. soccer, where the owner is attentive to his patronage’s affinity enough to seek out how to get the game, and perhaps more incredibly, a bar where you get Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY!), North Coast (a favorite brewer of mine) and Bitburger on tap. I don’t know if there are cakes in the urinals, but everything else sounds grand.
Back to our story, Phil was helpful in letting us know that typical close circuit sports feeds go for anywhere between $250 – $1000 for his establishment. Feeds are sometimes charged by occupancy rate so the actual fee can vary.
The fee for the U.S. Honduras game for Phil’s bar: $1020.
Additionally, as Phil pointed out, it’s the big fighting matches–which are heavily promoted in advance by the contenders–that fetch the top dollars. Certainly not a U.S.-Honduras game getting sporadic press with a smaller fanbase in the U.S.
In Phil’s own words:
“We don’t ever do PPV anything. But that’s more than big boxing events, which are usually really hyped in the media before hand. Really too bad, not a great time for restricted access to USMNT…
We’ll pay it and try to charge a cover to recoup. Def a crap shoot.”
Thanks for taking the risk on your side Phil. If we were Windy City folk, I’d get there early and run up a huge Hennepin tab.
So it would seem there is a premium being put on this game and if bars/establishments are willing to pay the top dollar and MediaPro can make back their investment and then some, it would be logical for them to go the close circuit route.
What do fans do with their angst then? Sadly, or thankfully, however you look at it, since this is unique to WCQ events, it is probably the last time through 2010 that USMNT games will be confronted with this unique situation.
The L.A. Times reported yesterday of an upcoming friendly for the U.S. team in the Netherlands (we knew our Heitinga comments would come to pass!) in March of next year. U.S. Soccer should be able to have a say in how broadcast rights are distributed in this one.
So the best bet is if your 21, head to your local bar.
If you’re under 21, fly out to San Francisco and we’ll sneak you in somewhere.
How about preventing this for next time? Well, in four years, maybe everyone will forget these broadcast issues. But I’m going to put this on U.S. Soccer to educate and keep the populace informed in advance of how broadcast rights are doled out.
Why? It seem to me that a Honduras game against say…Lichtenstein (no offense) would be less of a draw than against the United States.
So, while it probably won’t come to pass that FIFA will change their “your house, your rules” decisioning in broadcast rights–by mandating anything that is restrictive at all, FIFA would compromise the leverage of the broadcast negotiations and essentially everyone would lose–big nations (Italy, U.S., England, Brazil) are the only ones that could push FIFA to do anything differently.
That being said, the U.S. might compromise revenues from their games, which arguably fetch a higher dollar, than said Lichtenstein so the U.S. might lose as well.
A convoluted situation all around.
We’ve reached out again to CONCACAF, FIFA, and asked U.S. Soccer for any additional comment. We’ll post those if or when they come in.
Oh and one more note, I noted this article where Traffic Sports USA made the game available via PPV. It appeared to me that CONCACAF president and FIFA Vice President Jack Warner, a Trinidadian, stepped in made sure the game would be available to the T&T demographic in the U.S. via pay-per-view. So it appears there’s a precedent of FIFA officials stepping in…but maybe only when it matters to them individually.
BAR OWNERS: If you’re a bar owner showing the USA-Honduras soccer match, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add you to our “bar roll” on the right sidebar.