Archive for the ‘Broadcasting’ Category

Media Biz of Soccer: SB Nation, Softball, More…

Some minor happenings in the media business of soccer:

Um, that's not a soccer ball for sure...

• Just throwing this one out there: Men’s Softball.

I’m trying to work “soccer” into that comment, but really can’t.

Add another sport that will compete with MLS for viewership and production support. Softball.

The MLS…A (that’s MLSA) just announced their formation in June of this year in hopes of growing a league.

It is estimated 40M play softball in the United States (International Softball Federation) compared to about 25M for soccer (FIFA).

Softball should be a walk-in-the-park for ESPN. They have the production understanding from baseball and women’s softball, and they can follow their blueprint for poker by focusing on “the average Joe” and letting the personality of said “Joe” come through just like in poker (think: Phil Helmuth, Phil Ivey).

Finally, suds and home improvement sponsors would be waiting at the door the day the coverage began.

• If you write your own soccer blog on one of the global platforms, you may want to take a look at what’s happening in the burgeoning world-of-sport web platforms.

SB Nation is catching up in readership to Bleacher Report whilst the former heads of Rivals.com are about to make it a three-horse race.

The former, SB Nation, secured $8M in funding just about a year ago now and is starting to develop ties with ESPN. Their overall readership across their sites is about 1/3 that of the Bleacher Report.

Bleacher Report is aligned heavily with CBS and recently swapped out their CEO (bringing on the head of Yahoo Sports to take the company to the proverbial next level).

I would give SB Nation the leg up here–not in terms of functionality or technology–but, if you’re a soccer writer, in terms of supporting and growing the soccer coverage.

No regular soccer coverage on CBS.

One more note here: for the life of me I can’t understand how Google News labels Bleacher Report and SB Nation stories news, while meatier fare gets relegated to the “Blogs” service.

Martino sports a much different 'do these days...

• Watched some of Kyle Martino’s show on Fox Soccer Channel. Your thoughts?

One comment as the show kicks off:

You can’t stay stagnant with the studio. I would have thought Fox Soccer would have sunk a little bit more money into a set that looks very much like Fox Football Fone-In.

It’s important to break from the set of a former show–especially one in the same time slot–to show commitment to the new show, and to show advertisers that you are sinking money into the new show.

You think FSC–which has their contract with MLS coming up this year for renewal–would have opened up the billfold on the set a little more.

You can see out previous interview with Kyle here.

• An update on our Spurs finances piece, Tottenham Hotspur is one of only five teams in the EPL to sell out their season. (Arsenal, Chelsea, Blackpool, Manchester City and Spurs.)

Now it’s up to Dan Levy to manage those finances and add enough talent to make Champs League play a reoccurring theme, today’s stumble against the Young Boys non-withstanding.

• Had a good Twitter discussion with Tripp Mickle (a solid columnist for Sports Business Journal with a seriously awesome NASCAR name) on MLS and the networks. I disagree with him, but he has fair points.

His Tweet that got me a little fired up (since media is supposedly part of my bailiwick):

Is MLS eyeing its own network in the future? Don’t rule it out. The league hired CSTV and Classic co-founder Brian Bedol for media advice.

Our discussion:

@trippmickle Have a hard time thinking that MLS at present, could build out/manage production talent, infrastructure, promotions, etc. $$

@shinguardian No doubt an #MLS net would be years into the future, but as the league continues to expand, it’s not out of the picture.

@trippmickle That’s kind of very open-ended. :> I would suggest it wouldn’t happen for 15 years, thoughts?

@shinguardian Tough to predict. Maybe around a ’22 World Cup in the U.S. Maybe out of necessity in ’14 after Univision /ESPN rights end.

My thoughts here:

Tripp and I are on the same page. MLS and an MLS network is likely about double-digit years away. So for now, TSG rules it out…in 7 years, maybe time to start considering it. Extended thoughts:

» First, it can’t possibly outlay the infrastructure (production resources, talent, ad sales, equipment, etc.) that is necessary to fire up their own network when the league is not in stable financial straits just yet.

» Second, the MLS advertising base is not there. It’s not like they can actually sell the product just yet and just extend an advertisers media plan to “television and internet.” Much easier to do TV when you merely extend a media buy to television.

…General rule of thumb in media is you need about a 1.0 rating to attract major branded advertisers. For perspective, MLS regularly does about a .2 with a high of .39 earlier this year when Landon Donovan returned to the Galaxy for a July 4th game after the World Cup.

• Speaking of watching the ‘tube: A .5 rating for USA vs. Brazil…that…and the revenue…is why you hold that friendly. Nothing to sneeze at there. Solid numbers for the USMNT, if not a solid performance.

• And yes folks, we’re due to do a sequel to this piece…coming soon. As a note, it looks like ESPN is following a little of our schematic….’cept on the web front (minus Jeff Carlisle).

Happy America Day….Cheers

Happy 4th Of July to all….

TSG Reconvenes With ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle

Carlisle for ESPN...

TSG’s Brian Mechanick spoke with Jeff Carlisle as the ESPN reporter was about to hop a plan for South Africa.

Mechanick follows up today with a debrief from Carlisle with a little more than a week left at World Cup 2010.

To Brian & Jeff…..

Q: How do you rate the U.S.’s performance in this World Cup?

The exceeded expectations slightly. The fact that they won their group for the first time in 80 years, I don’t think anyone was expecting that. A lot of people say the group was weak, but anytime you can draw with England and take care of business in the other two games, that’s a solid accomplishment. On the other hand they went out in the second round, which a lot of people expected, so you can make the argument that they met expectations, but I would kick it up a few notches higher than that.

Q: How do you evaluate Bob Bradley’s performance as a manager in this World Cup?

On the whole I think he did pretty well. It’s easy to look at back on the game in hindsight and say, “Clearly he shouldn’t have started Ricardo Clark and Robbie Findley”, but I think if you pick a part that decision you have to put yourself in his shoes at the time he made the decision. The fact is the U.S. was coming off of two very intense, exhausting games against Slovenia and Algeria, and I think the logic of putting someone in the midfield who was a little bit fresher, that makes sense to me.

In terms of Findley, the U.S. offense was predicated on having Donovan and Dempsey pinch in and tuck into the middle and have the fullbacks overlap, but if you’re going to do that you need a guy who is going to stretch the defense vertically, so from that standpoint, putting Findley back into the line-up makes sense as well. Clearly, it didn’t work out as Bradley planned, but I think you need to give Bradley credit that he didn’t wait around until halftime and make changes then. He knew that the American’s tournament was on the line, he made changes, and I think they worked pretty well.

One thing a lot of people forget is when extra-time started Bradley had the right guys on the field, and they still coughed up a goal that was very preventable. That to me comes down to the players, not the coach.

Q: Has the American’s talent been overrated, or has the team underperformed to their ability?

I don’t think we’ve been overrating the U.S.’s talent. Coming into the tournament most people expected the team to make the second round and they did that. Could they have gone further? I think they could have. It wasn’t like they were dominated versus Ghana. Yes the first thirty minutes were looking pretty grim, but the U.S. as they so often do gathered themselves, rallied, made a game of it and took the match into extra time.

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USA Interlude: A Video Preview

Rolling image man extraordinaire Jay Bell sends us a little historic tribute to the USA versus England match-up.

Google Earth 3-D Peeps The New Stadiums

Pretty cool…even though there is not flyover of the surf at Crayfish Factor, Misty Cliffs or Nordhoek. Man, those are great surf spots.

Verbal Fisticuffs: A World Cup Wager

Courtesy of The Times.

*Note, this is not nearly as good as the little fake spat between Ireland and France from a few months ago.

—————

Still going....

From: Philip Breeden, US Embassy London

To: Martin Longden, British Embassy Washington DC

Subject: World Cup Bet

Mr. Longden, It has not escaped our attention that a certain sporting event is fast approaching, and that our respective nations will soon be meeting on the fields of South Africa.

My Ambassador has asked me to see if your Ambassador might be interested in a small wager? We will understand if you decline, given the outcome of the last such encounter.

Sincerely, Philip Breeden, U.S. Embassy, London

________________________________

From: Martin Longden, British Embassy Washington DC

To: Philip Breeden, US Embassy London

Subject: Re: World Cup Bet

Mr. Breeden,

Even for such an exceptionally optimistic nation as the United States, I am struck by the confidence with which your Ambassador proposes this wager. It is testament, I assume, to the generosity of your great nation – since the British Ambassador does not anticipate paying out.

Your email does not specify the exact terms of the wager. May I suggest that, in the event of an England victory, the US Ambassador agrees to entertain the British Ambassador at a steak-house of his choosing in downtown DC? And in the event that the United States is able to engineer a fortuitous win over England, then my man will entertain yours at a London pub of his choosing. Loser pays.

Your reference to a previous sporting encounter between our two countries puzzles me. Since the history of English football is long and extensive, in contradistinction to US soccer, I regret that I cannot immediately recall the encounter to which you refer. No doubt it is remembered fondly on these shores; we have quite forgotten it, however.

Are you sure you want to do this?

Yours sincerely, Martin Longden British Embassy Washington DC

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