Archive for the ‘The Business of Soccer’ Category

Forbes List Of The Most Valuable “Football” Clubs

How do I become an investor in Goal 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8?

Two comments from this annual article by Forbes: “The Nike  swoosh will continue to adorn the shirt as well thanks to a 13-year pact with the apparel maker that pays the team $470 million plus a 50% share of profits on specific merchandise through 2015.”

• Make way for the influx of big clubs both locally here in the States and anywhere with a big enough television audience. Just this week we heard a barrage of potential and likely match-ups in the states with names ranging from AC Milan all the way down to Benfica.

Forbes’ comment on this: The “poorest” global clubs “have little reach outside their local markets. Manchester City and Newcastle United posted operating losses of $56 million and $49 million.

Some “Wow” Stats from US Soccer on Growth

TSG learned something new last week when we talked to US Soccer about a growing part of the USMNT fan base. That segment? The Hispanic fan who roots for a Mexico, a Honduras or a Costa Rica and the United States. More than interesting to us.

Still one of my favorite soccer pics of this year...HDC, January.

USSF sent us a few more stats here that, frankly, blew our mind.

A couple may be of interest:

• The broadcast of the USA vs. Brazil Confederations Cup Final on Univision beat both of Telemundo’s primetime telecasts of the Mexican national team friendly games the week before (Guatemala on Wednesday night and Venezuela on Sunday night) in both Adults 18-49 and Men 18-49.

• Univision’s delivery on the USA vs. Brazil match was approximately 75 percent of ESPN’s in households and all key demos, which is pretty remarkable given the relatively small size of the U.S. Hispanic population versus that of the non-Hispanic population.

• Also, the ratings for the first qualifying match between the U.S. and Mexico held in Columbus, Ohio, was seen in its entirety or in part by 10.7 million viewers on Univision. That was the most-watched sports event ever on Spanish-language television.

• The audience on Spanish-language television far outpaced ESPN2’s English telecast. Still, the 1.2 million people who watched on ESPN2 was the largest audience for any of the 26 qualifying matches the network has shown dating back to 2001, Nielsen said.

US Soccer & TSG: On Soccer Growth USA

Always kind of US Soccer to take TSG’s calls. We had a chance a few days ago to chat with them for a bit on a variety of topics.

Red Bull Arena: An encouraging and major sign of the times...

One topic that we brushed on more from a conversational perspective and less from an official statement of USSF is how the growth of soccer manifests itself in the coming years…and we learned something new as we meandered through that one.

Part of reason we asked the question was because we were about to publish our ways to improve ESPN article.

Here’s how it went down:

Question:

What is most important to the growth of soccer to the mass audience in America: brand advertisers, gate attendance, television viewing  or other? While they all go hand-in-hand–if you had to pick one that you could have/increase–which would it be and why?

TSG’s contention is that ESPN more than any other entity will have the single biggest say on how soccer grows in the coming decade.

The Gist from USSF:

USSF general message was this:

ESPN as an outlet to follow the game is important. The game is going to grow now and ESPN recognizes the growing fan base across the country.

The coverage of soccer and the interest level now is huge and ESPN is one of its the biggest vehicle and will be a big part of the growth in the next 10 years.

Also, Univision–don’t forget about Univision as well. There is a huge Hispanic market developing.

Actually, a big driver of growth for US soccer is coming from the Hispanic market. Many fans are now not just fans of one national team. It’s not uncommon to hear from a fan, “I’m a fan of US Soccer and Honduras.”

Why not root for both? (courtesy Matt Mathai)

“I’m a fan of US Soccer and Costa Rica.” Guatemala and Mexico as well.

There are a large number of Hispanic fans being converted to the US Soccer market and this is a huge opportunity that Univision realizes.

—–

Wow, learned something new on that one. Thanks USSF. Next up for TSG? Reach out to Univision….

ESPN Offers The Why On Tyler & Dellacamera

Did ESPN "short circuit" it's World Cup coverage? (If you get this movie reference, you're an old man like us....)

TSG was able to reach out to ESPN today on changes occurring in their soccer coverage (the television broadcast & the web site, Soccernet). We’ll be aggregating some feedback over this week and throwing down a column or two next week as soon as we get some time from ESPN.

TSG also reached out to a few community members to help us with our questions over to S-pen. We’ll tease our follow-up piece with a response offered by ESPN on a question by TSG community member, Dan (of Free Beer Movement fame).

Let it be said first that while TSG will be uncompromising in our review of ESPN’s coverage, that the good folks over at ESPN are always helpful and punctual in replying to our requests. Whether we send them questions that focus on the positive, or the negative, we always get quick, informational, professional responses. Thanks guys at ESPN.

Now this from ESPN on World Cup announcers.

Dan’s question: The main commentators for the 2010 World Cup are going to be British for ESPN.  And while I readily acknowledge that our domestic broadcasting talent is not on par with the like of Martin Tyler.. isn’t ESPN obligated to grow and nurture on-air soccer talent?

ESPN’s response:

» We went for the best English-language commentators in the world for the WC matches (a global event).

» We are approaching our coverage from a global perspective.

Dellacamera

» JP Dellacamera, who is arguably the best U.S. play-by-play commentator for soccer, has the lead role on ESPN Radio’s WC coverage, a major initiative for the company that we expect will grow with time (why not put a recognizable face/commentator on that platform to boost its value from the get go).

» If you agree that Tyler is the best and Tyler is the lead commentator for WC on TV, then assigning JP, a lead U.S. voice, to be lead on Radio and call the title match on radio from site (a first for the service/English-language radio in U.S.) makes sense.

As a soccer/sports fan who understands how big the WC is, I think you’ll agree ESPN will be underserving soccer fans if (it) uses the biggest stage of any sporting event to “grow and nurture on-air soccer talent.”  (see feedback from 2006 WC).

Besides, that is not ESPN’s obligation. Our role as business that serves sports fan is to “present the WC in a way that celebrates and acknowledges the event/teams/athletes in a month-long competition that features the world’s best on sport’s biggest stage.”

Feedback from TSG  on ESPN’s response:

First on the response itself, I love that it’s direct. So often TSG asks questions and the response actually waffles or is not clear on what the message is. That’s a positive.

Marvelous Martin...

I generally agree with ESPN’s feedback. Depending on how you feel about Dellacamera, it’s hard not select a Martin Tyler. Tyler is both good and a personality and his inclusion by ESPN legitimizes their coverage in my mind…in essence, they didn’t “just go with what they had.” It shows effort by ESPN. Continually at least ESPN gave their own number one guy the green light to call the title match, even if on radio. What are Dellacamera’s other announcing options if he doesn’t like the situation. Is there a better place to work than ESPN?

From a businessman’s standpoint, I have to “like” ESPN’s response that leads with “that is not ESPN’s obligation” in reference to growing and nurturing talent. ESPN, as someone who went to broadcasting school at Newhouse, is the the top echelon. Broadcasters should strive to reach that pinnacle in their career. They should nurture their careers before arriving.

Thanks Dan for a great question and ESPN for the answer.

Questioning Nike Soccer….

Thank you to all who helped contribute to our questions for Nike Soccer.

Baby EJ: Member of Nike's Project-40

Here are the questions that TSG and you submitted to Nike:

TSG Proper:

1) What role does Nike Soccer feel they inhabit–both in their eyes and in the eyes of the American sports fan–in growing and developing the sport in mainstream America? Do they feel they have a “critical” or “non-critical” role? Qualify.

1b) What is Nike’s position on it’s past involvement in Project-40? Will it consider such program support again for similar programs?

2) Where does “soccer” sit as an initiative in the Nike pecking order? Below basketball obviously, but above swimming? curling? How does Nike evaluate their effort level (products, advertising, events, etc.) around a sport? Merely on market size and a financial model or are there other considerations?

3) While we spoke about Nike’s typical advertising efforts–one of our favorite articles on the future of advertising invokes Nike–one notion that TSG maintains is that branded advertisers are needed to support soccer broadcasts in the United States that haven’t necessarily reached the critical broadcast ratings levels necessary to appeal to those advertisers yet. Putting the chicken before the egg so to speak. Would Nike play a role in this or do they already?
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