Greed Is Good: Why MLS Must Feed The Monster

How much is your team worth?

"How much are you gonna spend on a ticket son?" "Not enough"

“How much are you gonna spend on a ticket son?” “Not enough” (Photo courtesy: MLSReserves.com)

Alex Olshansky with Part I of II on assessing franchise value in MLS

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Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen recently stated in a Salt Lake Tribune profile of him: “One thing that’s black and white: I will never make money running this.”

Mr. Hansen is right.

And he is also very wrong.

He is right in the sense that vast majority of MLS teams run on a net operating loss. Based on that comment, RSL is likely among that group. But here’s where Mr. Hansen is wrong: hardly anyone in world soccer makes their money on operations. It is not a cash-flowing business. It is an asset-appreciation business.

Below is the most recent financial table of EPL clubs compiled by The Guardian. QPR and Swansea were excluded as some information was missing for them. Also, The Guardian’s formula was slightly altered to make the numbers more uniform.

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As is the case in MLS, most teams are not making money on an operating basis.

Champions Manchester City lost nearly 100 million pounds (~$150 million), on revenues of 230 million.

And yet, according to Forbes, they are currently worth approximately $690 million.

If MLS aspires to be one of the top leagues in the world, as Don Garber has stated, then the league has a long way to go to resemble the EPL, the current gold standard of global soccer. Manchester United—by itself—is worth approximately three times the entirety of MLS.

So how does MLS stack up? With information so opaque, estimating a team’s finances and overall value is—at best— educated guesswork. To date, the most comprehensive attempt to value each MLS team was done by Forbes back in 2008.

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For whatever reason, Forbes has not put out anything since.

The league has changed dramatically since then. For example, this piece of info from the 2008 article on “struggling teams.”

..believe SportingKC has done just that.

..believe SportingKC has done just that.

“The Kansas City Wizards are playing in a minor league baseball stadium and had just $5 million in revenue.”

One factor that makes valuing MLS teams so challenging is inextricable business relationship between the teams and MLS/SUM.

Among the peculiarities of this relationship is that the league—not the team—owns each player’s contract.

Additionally, SUM negotiates the sale of World Cup broadcasting rights in the United States, organizes international friendlies, etc. and profits from these ventures may or may not be distributed to owners of MLS teams. Therefore, to simplify matters, this valuation only takes into account revenue earned by each team. It also allocates any revenue from league-wide sponsorship deals (Adidas) equally amongst everyone.

Match day revenues were calculated based on average ticket prices from tiqiq.com and a blend of average attendance from 2012 and the first games of 2013. This value was “grossed-up” to account for non-ticket match day revenue. This calculation is based on guidance from a 2009 document (login required) prepared when the Portland Timbers were pushing for public funding for a stadium. The gross-up factor is lower for teams without their own soccer-specific stadia.

Television, with the exception of the LA Galaxy Time Warner deal, was allocated evenly across each team.

Team-specific sponsorship was generally limited to jersey and or stadium deals. Local and smaller deals could not be tabulated as those specifics are not publicly available.

For example, from the profile of RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen, he mentions that he expects RSL to generate approximately $10 million in sponsorship revenue.

But a contradiction?

Yet, for this exercise they are shown at $4.1 million in order to maintain consistency across each team.

The New York Red Bulls are an interesting case as their ownership is both the team’s jersey and stadium sponsor. As such, a guess was made as to the fair market value of these deals ($4M for jersey and $4M for stadium per year) if a new sponsor had to be found.

Perhaps the trickiest part of the exercise was arriving at a revenue multiple for each team.

Operating multiples do not make sense for an industry in which there are few teams with positive operating margins. The 2008 Forbes study had an average MLS revenue multiple of 2.92. For their global soccer team rankings these are the average revenue multiples used (profit information not provided in ’11 and ’12).

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There is a clear premium to being operationally profitable.

But it is hard to extrapolate too much from these figures as the sample size is relatively small.

Also, these clubs differ from MLS clubs in that they are all mature with relatively limited growth prospects.

For the sake of putting a stick in the ground, the assumption was made that an average unprofitable soccer club commands a revenue multiple of approximately 1.75x. By virtue of being in a developing league with room to grow, it is assumed that an average unprofitable MLS team is worth an additional 0.5x revenue for an average revenue multiple of 2.25x.

This baseline is lower than Forbes calculated in 2008, but the average team also collects more revenue now than it did five years ago and is slightly more mature as a result. Also, and this is completely subjective, an additional .25x was added to teams for each one of these factors:

  • 1. Own soccer specific stadium
  • 2. Profitable from operations (LA, SEA, HOU, POR, MTL, TOR) 3. Top three US market (NY, LA, CHI).
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There are clearly a couple distinct tiers with the Galaxy and Sounders ahead of the pack. One big difference between this year’s values and the 2008 study is how there is a large “middle class” in MLS of teams with their own soccer specific stadia and multiple sponsors.

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You can see the evolution of the league from 2008 to present. The consistent increase in value from year to year is primarily due to the addition of strong expansion teams (SEA, POR, etc.), new stadiums, new sponsorship deals, and the general macroeconomic rise in asset values in the past couple of years.

The trend-line is undoubtedly positive for MLS, but there is one area where the league lags far behind in its quest for global respect.

All there for you to see...

All there for you to see…

The league has done very well in the past 5-10 years to maximize their match day revenues.

It is now one of the best attended sports leagues in the country; on par with the NHL and NBA in terms of attendance. But getting people to watch the game on TV remains the greatest and final hurdle. The good news is the league has done well with the capital-intensive components of a team’s revenue. By contrast, any boost in broadcasting and commercial/sponsorship revenue goes straight to a team’s bottom line: this is the low hanging fruit for owners and league executives. Yet it remains painfully just out of reach. For now.

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45 responses to this post.

  1. Alex, thanks for doing all the hard work on this analysis. I think MLS is like the little engine that could, slowly chugging up the mountain. It now has a decent number of teams and good attendance, but it hasn’t crested the hill of TV revenue.

    Every league has to start somewhere. The real test is how we look back at these numbers in 5-10 years.

    Reply

    • Yep. Part of what makes this time so interesting is the growth and potential. When it’s mature and totally media saturated it won’t be as fun to do these things.

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  2. Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/04/30 at 11:57 AM

    Improve the level of play, sell more players, sell more players, make more money, make more money , invest in better players – it is one massive circle but some point you can’t have clowns like Alan Gordon being recycled from club to club and really expect overall improvement either in quality of play nor financially.
    I used to watch quite a bit but when you put on a telecast and you have clubs who can not string 4 sharp passes together after watching La Liga,Serie A or the EPL ( OK- STOKE, QPR and READING not withstanding) one tends to become disinterested. I mean I watched a Toronto vs. KC match about 2 weeks ago and it was just dreadful. AND I would like to see us win at least 1 CONCACAF Champions League because if you do not think it is important you are dead wrong. Superiority over the Mexican League should be Garbers #1 target and the way we approach it is just terrible. And we need better coaching at all levels because these kids that played for Ramos at the U20 looked fantastic yet they, if history is any guide, will drift into oblivion in the next 3 to 5 years.
    You know Suarez catches hell for dirty play and general stupidity , upon which I agree- but he has a passion to win that is almost self consuming and I wish we had 5 – just 5- just like him.

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    • Tim, you will probably enjoy my Part 2 of this. I try to address a lot of your points.

      Reply

    • Posted by das on 2013/05/01 at 9:37 AM

      Complaining about the level of play in MLS is soooooo 2006. I’ve seen enough bad play from numerous teams in Europe and I don’t judge the level of play of the EPL on QPR, Wigan, or Stoke. Could of it be better? Of course. MLS is not a finished product like many European leagues and is still growing and improving.

      And whining about coaching is silly since MLS has been addressing this by sending coaches to European clubs and French academies. The benefits will not be seen over night. But like with the investments in the MLS academies, it will be over time.

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    • Posted by david on 2014/03/20 at 10:58 PM

      I agree with the Cycle your mentioned, and I would have to say that the answer to this could be simple if only the NCAA and MLS made it possible for players to advance. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for a college education, but sometimes the Culture in America puts too much emphasis on obtaining a degree directly out of High school.

      Im My Opinion I think it could be looked at backwards, What if players Attempted to Play professionally before returning to college…playing through college, esp. NCAA Div 1 & 2. its so high paced, and challenges are so reckless that a large amount of great talent never makes to out of the university. If Gifted players had the opportunity to play pro at an earlier age in the US, the earnings they made could help pay for the college education they got after their soccer career.

      Id like to touch on the fact that americans need the game presented in a manner that would fit their norm. which are, Statistics. americans don’t like the fact the you can tie in Soccer, america is a nation of “winners” and for them to even pay the slightest bit of attention to a game where NO ONE LOST…. its going to take time but I am committed to helping see it get there, and if any of you would like to exchange information and discuss how we can do our part in the growth, PLEASE REACH OUT TO ME!

      -Committed to change soccer in America!

      Reply

  3. Interesting thoughts, but you also forget that several clubs have huge debt from stadium projects, oh and the reason Forbes hasn’t released an updated list is that MLS has no level of transparency in their numbers, so you don’t know the actual operating costs or revenue of the teams or the league. The unique single entity means that the equations are even more difficult to calculate.

    You also can compare average attendance between leagues, you are dealing with the NHL and NBA that have normal seasons with twice as many matches as MLS, so while MLS may have caught and even passed them on an average per event basis in some cases, you still have MLS teams doing a huge number of comp tickets, several thousand per match

    You are also missing out that most teams also have local TV deals, some make money from them, while others actually lose money due to production costs. Also on sponsors, a portion of the jersey deal (and I believe others) go to the MLS corporate pot.

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    • Thanks for the input. I did not know they had to share in jersey sponsor revenue, though that is in line with a lot of the league’s practices. I figured most local tv deals would be a wash (some positive/some negative), but I think Seattle and Portland may get legit $ in the near future. Also the Canadian teams get relatively good ratings.

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      • Posted by drummer_god on 2013/06/30 at 12:44 PM

        canadian teams do not get good ratings;
        CBC dropped TFC games due to low ratings. i’m talking 30,000 tv viewers. thats pretty much the same people who go to games are the only ones watching on tv. CBC was promised a much higer viewrship number when they signed the TV deal. those numbers never came into fruition, so they did not renew the deal.
        similar TV hardships for montreal impact and vancouver whitecaps.
        the toronto raptors have nominally higher tv ratings than TFC and were also dropped from mainstream networks. like the raptors, TFC is being propped up by MLSE/toronto maple leafs. both would have moved or folded otherwise.

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  4. Wait, are we entirely certain that the L.A. Galaxy are the only MLS club getting paid for its local TV rights? Don’t Houston & Philly have local deals with Comcast? Wouldn’t Root Sports be paying up for Seattle & Portland?

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    • I’m definitely not entirely certain. I mean most every team has a local tv deal but how much money are they getting paid? Or are they paying the local tv to cover them? I’d be interested if someone had this info and would be willing to share.

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  5. Posted by Amy on 2013/04/30 at 2:20 PM

    Thanks Alex this was such an interesting read. Great analysis!

    Reply

  6. Posted by Zack G. on 2013/04/30 at 2:53 PM

    This is stellar work, Alex.

    One thing that’s interesting to note going forward is the history of broadcasting in English football. People assume that MLS’s current viewership woes are somehow grounded in a state of affairs that is ontologically different to the growing pains that soccer across the Atlantic once faced – that English footy never had to deal with such issues. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything only changed with the advent of the Premier League two decades ago – but before that £304m Sky contract, regular live football wasn’t really a thing (and it was mostly on BBC and ITV, publicly-funded networks). Granted, it’s a different sporting landscape and much larger soccer television audience (in terms of sheer numbers and percentage-wise); however, many don’t realize that MLS isn’t really all that slow in making inroads into the sports television market… it’s a natural progression that has made strides and will continue to. And, one day, MLS will have its Sky moment too – but it’ll come at the time when it’s a league that garners a large (and sustained) degree of global interest.

    We’re right on schedule. That last hurdle will be cleared in due course.

    Reply

    • Thanks for that info on the EPL. Read up on its history. Indeed, how quickly people forget that the Italian league used to be the goliath of Europe.

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    • I think you raise a good point, but the TV landscape in England was completely different back then. Yes, there were BBC’s ‘Match Of The Day’, and ITV’s ‘The Big Match’, but not on a weekly basis. But the KOs back then were for the most part all at 15:00,not spread out like today because of TV scheduling.

      Plus don’t confuse demand with supply. Demand has always been there, but for whatever reason, football was not / is not televised like it is today in many overseas markets. I know the [smaller?] clubs were worried about televised games affecting attendance – remember, it’s not like the US with 20 teams in a country the size of a continent. A quick look on Sky’s TV guide vs. FSC/FS+ and you will see what I am talking about, especially Saturday’s fixtures – Kenichi Ohmae would certainly be proud of the PL’s globalisation.

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  7. Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/04/30 at 7:04 PM

    Is it true or not that the MLS draws TV audiences on par with NHL except in specific Hockey loving markets? I know the hurdle can not be that high.

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    • not even close, first in actual attendance this year the NHL averaged 17,768 and right now MLS is at 17,377. On TV the NHL on NBC Sports is averaging 646,000 viewer on their Wednesday night broadcasts and overall average is 332,000, I believe the MLS averaged 125,000 last year for their broadcasts on NBC Sports

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      • I don’t think that’s Tom’s question. It could well be that Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and other hockey-loving states are driving the majority of NHL ratings.
        I live in Pittsburgh, and the hockey coverage here is ridiculously more prevalent than it was when I lived in Dallas.

        I doubt that makes up the gap completely, but once you get outside of the big hockey markets, I’d be shocked if the NHL is anywhere near as popular as soccer.

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        • Posted by bpmangan on 2013/06/05 at 11:02 AM

          to be fair, would you then have to discount Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia, Kansas City from MLS ratings?

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  8. This is good work. I think these are fair valuations, though I suspect that if the Sounders were put up for sell they would fetch a 4x to 6x multiple on the open market. Could easily imagine one of the city’s (or world’s) many billionaires paying $300 million for the club.

    Reply

    • They may be worth more than ~$110M but it’s unlikely to be too much higher given a new owner wouldn’t get such a good deal at Century Link (+ operating costs) and at $300M valuation puts Sounders on par with Newcastle United, Napoli, Olympique Lyon in terms of global valuation. I don’t think they are Seattle’s peers quite yet.

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  9. Posted by Frank on 2013/05/01 at 5:36 AM

    I agree with Tom regarding the CONCACAF CL. Overtaking the MX league should be one of their top priorities. It’s hard to sell people on your league when you are clearly dominated by another non-world class league. And the way to do that is… Money. But even if they had the money to throw around and collect all of North and Central America’s best talent, many MX players won’t come to MLS until it is the best route to Europe. So again like Tom stated.. Sell Players. I think one of the most important factors to MLS’ growth, is having the players that go overseas perform well, so those teams come back to MLS to purchase more talent.

    Broadcasts are a tough sell for MLS. America is huge. Italy has 20 teams and is the size of a large state. For many soccer fans, there is no local team (myself included; Detroit, MI). The closest MLS franchises are rivals in all other sports and are in no way getting my support. Meaning, I can’t go to a game, all games I watch are as an outsider. This puts MLS on equal footing for my viewership as all other leagues (I’m a fan of Serie A). This concept is always glossed over, but without a relegation/promotion system, my support of the local Michigan Bucks franchise does not extend to MLS. Since there is no chance, however remote it would be anyways, that they could ever succeed to that level.

    MLS needs to do 1 of 2 things to draw in viewers from non-franchise markets: 1)Find a way to get franchises in states that have proven to be able to support professional sports teams (eventually ~30 teams like the other major sports leagues). 2)Find a way to incorporate a Relegation/Promotion system so the lower tier teams that do exist, have an ultimate success level of getting to MLS. Without one of those two, many soccer fans in the U.S have no ties to MLS.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/05/01 at 8:40 AM

      Frank- Man do we agree. I was living in South Florida when we had the Fusion. The club was terrible until Ray Hudson took over but at least they were ours. I went to every game when I was in town. We had a Suarez type figure by the name of Diego Serna. Big Colombian striker who was dumb as rocks, had more talent then the rest of the team combined, and would do anything to win. Played in a little dump of a stadium, a glorified high school football field for the mostly poor black high schools in the area but at the time it was toast of the league because it was “soccer specific”. It even ended up becoming the home field of FAU until they finally managed to build their own on campus facility.
      And then they were gone and so was my connection to the league.
      Promotion?Relegation – I am so in love with the idea it hurts but I just do not see the American owner ever buying into it. If the financial state is as bad as they say where would the parachute payments come from? Without Tv money ………… it always comes back to being able to generate enough TV revenue to make things of this nature possible. And how do you generate more TV revenue? With a better brand of football which costs more money. In short- I wish I had all the answers but clearly I do not.
      30 teams- With our current shallow talent pool and lack of,yes, here we go again, TV revenue, how could we afford to bring in players to make sure we did not have some clubs who played glorified kick ball? Would love to see it but there are so many Toronto FC’s with 18 teams what happen’s if you go to 30?

      f4denz- Thanks for setting me straight on the TV audience point. I must of read that on some MLS propaganda website. Maybe it was something Lalas said.

      Lastly- we need better coaches. Both Sigi and Arena got their collective large butts handed to them in CONCACAF semi’s. And they are among the best we have at the moment. Their tactics & game management were so wrong.

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      • Tom, it is funny that the NHL season numbers just came out today and the average for NBC Sports was 392K this year over 56 games.

        I do laugh at those who think the relegation/promotion are the only thing that can save MLS. Sorry, the NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB all have done very well without relegation. Yes if the leagues were hundreds of years old, and had started with that model, then yes but that isn’t the case. No owner is going to invest $100 million for a franchise in MLS and then risk being demoted to the NASL where it only takes an investment of a couple million to get started.

        You are also talking about a sports market where there are tons of options, while most other markets soccer is the most dominate sport, Soccer around the world is generational and geographical, but consider the reality that MLS hasn’t had the chance to be generational yet, and honestly won’t for a couple decades, and when every geographic area likely has a couple pro teams, and several collegiate teams it is unlikely that MLS will ever capture enough of the market that promotion/relegation will make sense to the owners or the league in general

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        • Posted by Frank on 2013/05/03 at 4:47 AM

          Just to clarify… I don’t think relegation/promotion is the only answer, or even the best answer. There are so many hurdles to installing that type of system. The league would need to financially put the franchises at a level playing field financially to accomodate the fees that have already been paid. The issue of teams who paid large fees for MLS franchises being relegated and teams being promoted after comparatively small initial fees would need to be resolved.

          Examples:
          *Current MLS teams could be exempt from relegation for a period of time;
          *A payment system could be implemented to subsidize the investments for relegated teams that paid the high initial fees;
          *When (if ever) the money is there to support more teams, you could have a promotion without relegation system until the ~30ish number of teams fills the league;
          *MLS could disperse money using percentages, based on the investments that each team made… You could even have teams paying the league after their buy-in so that they can obtain a larger percentage of the pie. Also, even if a team was relegated
          *A strictly 2-tier system could be created. If there was a 2nd tier MLS league that teams could bounce between, you could have another 20 franchises with cities and fan support interested and invested in MLS. That would give MLS 40 locations of support, while keeping the 20 team quality intact.

          There are people much smarter than me, who also don’t have all the answers. The bottom line though, is money.

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          • Posted by Dirk on 2013/05/06 at 5:38 PM

            I could be wrong, but doesn’t FIFA have limitations on how many clubs can exist in a country’s first division? I though 24 was the max. I might be wrong.

            Regarding relegation/promotion, I feel i have a good way to handle it. If MLS maxes out at 20 Top Tier teams, let’s say the 2nd tier could consist of 12 teams (at first), cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Orlando etc.

            Each league plays a balanced schedule with home and away fixtures.

            Between the two leagues, there could be 10 play-off spots available.

            8 spots for the first tier, 2 spots for the 2nd tier. The top two teams in the first tier get a bye to make the regular season worth something.. The 3rd and 4th ranked teams from the first tier play the top 2 teams in the 2nd tier, with the 5th thru 8th teams in the first tier also squaring off. Or perhaps give the 3rd and 4th teams from the 1st division a choice as to who they wish to play, one of the top teams int he 2nd division or one of the lower ranked play-off team from 1st division.

            This would help protect the investment of say the Red Bulls if they were “relegated” to the 2nd tier. They would still have a shot at winning the MLS cup. Eventually if the 2nd tier grew to 20 clubs, it could be looked at the way we used to look at American/National leagues in baseball, only the first tier would be 20 teams competing for 8 spots, with the 2nd 20 competing for the last two, although with 20 teams in each league you could eventually expand to as many as 12-16 play-off spots.

            The top 2 in the 2nd tier would be promoted automatically, with perhaps the 3rd place 2nd tier team having a home and away play-off with the 18th ranked team in the 1st division, much like they do in Germany.

            It would create more excitement for fans in each city while not devaluing some of the bigger clubs if they were to be relegated. They could still have the same operating budgets and a chance at the MLS cup and play-offs.

            Reply

            • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/05/06 at 6:27 PM

              Dear Dirk,

              I love the idea,it is very well thought out, but would not want to be in the room when you pitched it to the owners. These guys just will not jeopardize their investment to be playing the Carolina Railhawks with a gate of 3000 with an average ticket price of $12.

    • Posted by das on 2013/05/01 at 9:27 AM

      Anyone that brings up pro/rel is not serious about solutions to help U.S. soccer. It is a non-starter and never happening. I am sorry, but MLS owners didn’t spend small fortunes to end up in D2 or D3 and be replaced by the Michigan Bucks who have no money or stadium.

      You didn’t need a local interest to become a Serie A fan, so I don’t know why you would need one to become a fan you own country’s league. That is an excuse.

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      • Posted by s44 on 2013/05/02 at 10:54 PM

        “Anyone that brings up pro/rel is not serious”

        Yeah, you can really just stop there.

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      • Posted by Frank on 2013/05/03 at 4:53 AM

        What is it an excuse for? I’ve purchased my MLS Live subscription, but I’m not going on a road trip/ vacation to try to support some random MLS team. What more can I do to get behind MLS?

        My point is that MLS is on an equal footing for my viewership with leagues in other countries, because I am an outsider to either… (Nothing local to support and can’t go to actual games)

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  10. Posted by das on 2013/05/01 at 9:40 AM

    Would the recent stories about the Man City owners looking to throw tons of money at MLS for the NYC franchise change some things about the MLS business model? That would be feeding the monster.

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  11. Posted by dth on 2013/05/01 at 11:06 AM

    I think you have a deceptive clipping of Hansen’s quote. The reason he says he won’t make money is because he intends to reinvest his profits.

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  12. Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/05/01 at 11:41 AM

    Maybe we can get Soros and/or the Koch brothers convinced the soul of the american people resides in the MLS fan base and could get either or both could throw a billion our way. That would certainly be helpful.
    We could either give away automatic clips and bibles at the gate or have the stupid mascots toss free birth control into the crowd and have large gay marriage ceremonies at half time depending on which one of the two steps up.

    Just a thought. Gotta chase the big bucks wherever they are at and can’t be too proud.

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  13. Posted by Ron "Revolt" on 2013/05/02 at 8:14 AM

    This is an excellent article. However, I do have some questions on the assumptions. Can you describe in some more detail how matchday revenues are derived. I would have thought that EPL ticket prices would be far higher than in the US, and with attendance in the EPL compared to MLS, I had expected a bigger spread between the two leagues. In any case, very nice work.

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    • There’s still a pretty big spread between EPL and MLS. Check out this link http://via.me/-brhnyqo . One thing to consider is EPL stadiums aren’t actually that large, apart from the top 4/5 clubs. If you just looked at the bottom 10 EPL teams their attendance wouldn’t be far off from MLS. I admit that Matchday revenue was more art than science, but I consulted tiqiq.com pretty seriously to estimate my numbers. Check that site out, you might be surprised how much MLS tickets are trading for.

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      • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/05/02 at 4:25 PM

        That is very interesting. The gate gap is much more pronounced then we are lead to believe. Having attended quite a few “bottom” 14″ EPL contests in the last 3 years,however, I am not surprised. I went to see Stoke at home vs. QPR last year.2012, in February, very cold and nasty, and got fleeced 50 euros to sit behind the QPR goal.
        And the match was horrid.

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  14. Posted by mark on 2013/05/02 at 5:29 PM

    Another factor that’s going to hamper MLS’ growth from a broadcast TV perspective is the flood of EPL games coming next season through NBCU’s recent deal with the league to broadcast all the matches on its TV networks or via broadband. If the EPL already dominates U.S. soccer viewing with games available now on Fox and ESPN, that situation is about to get worse. (Except during the EPL’s brief summer break.)

    The direct challenge MLS faces on TV from superior leagues internationally is something no other top U.S. sports league has to deal with. The quality of play in MLS simply has to improve to help teams better compete for the attention of soccer viewers with a cornucopia of games to choose from.

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    • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/05/03 at 5:24 AM

      But without more revenue coming in and in turn it being invested on the players how can you improve the product?
      The goal should be be to be the best paying league in the Western Hemisphere.
      Imagine getting to watch football the quality of the Brazilian or Argentinian League and enjoying the Nymar’s or David Luiz’s for 2 to 4 years before selling them on to the EPL, La Liga etc.?
      But in truth doesn’t a lot of that come from developing serious academies and not treating them as a necessary nuisance? Hell, the best players in the current MLS all come from South America anyway. Any self respecting, talented Mexican player is not going to cross the border for crap money and crap competition.
      We need to be getting these kids at 9 or 10, offering them an excellent education and a football environment where they can enhance, not retard, their skill set.
      In short, the MLS has got to become a lot less American/Canadian player focused and instead much more “who is the best ” focused. That way our best kids will get pushed and start to develop as well.
      Now-if we could just find the right people to run the football side of these academies.

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  15. Posted by Joe on 2013/05/07 at 11:21 AM

    Things I would be interested in finding out.
    1. How much money does MLS make on the MLS live and MLS direct kick packages, and then how much of that money goes to the teams and their owners?
    2. Do they thinks it would be more economical to offer it free with sponsors? i.e. Stream of the Week. If they do they should advertise these games on their nationally televised games such as on ESPN and NBSSN or on local broadcasts.
    3. With the large amount of programing that MLSsoccer.com is making are they working towards a MLS network?

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  16. […] was pointed out in Part I of this analysis, the main problem facing MLS teams is the lack of TV money being […]

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  17. I have an idea for the Chivas USA, and the growth of the game. I would put that struggling franchise in Mexico, i know they have their MX league, but putting that franchise in mexico would make the league a lot more interesting and we have canada with three teams already. And its different, they choose their champions by way of points thats our supporters shield champion and we have the the MLS cup champions which is unique in which no other country has our system. Fans in the Americas would enjoy this very much and it will create more interest, its worth the try.

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  18. […] about the “growing” part of the equation – particularly the TV side of it, the focal point of the first piece. There, at least for me, this is a big maybe, but one with a […]

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  19. […] Match day revenue is much more important in MLS than in other leagues around the world.  One rough estimate from theshinguardian.com estimates that $22.8 million, or approximately 50%, of the Galaxy’s $45.7 million in total […]

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