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Finding The Balance Between Soccer and Advertising

soccer advertising Finding The Balance Between Soccer and Advertising

Many of you will probably not like what I’m going to say, but I think we as soccer fans, myself included, are very hard to please. We want HD. We don’t want a sports ticker across the bottom. We want a clean presentation on screen with very few bugs, just the beautiful game. We want the best football commentators. We want TV coverage of every game. We want to hear the sound balance to be perfect where we can hear the sound of the crowd. We want to see the players coming down the tunnel before the game. And the list goes on and on.

The question I have for you is, where does advertising fit into all of this?

TV companies are in the business to make money, not to provide us the perfect soccer viewing experience. Yes, by doing the latter TV networks will attract more viewers and it’ll help generate greater TV revenue but I’m sure that many of us would agree that we’d love to have a high quality half-time presentation show with tactical analysis, great pundits, slow-mo action replays and more. Again, to the detriment of advertising.

You have to admit that soccer fans are hard to satisfy. We want the best of the best and we’re a very loud niche audience. We call and e-mail and tweet the satellite and cable providers. We make a lot of noise.

My fear here is that while some soccer networks try hard to provide a quality viewing experience, we’ll never be completely satisfied because our expectations are so high. An ESPN employee on the cruise I just took asked me why I thought it was so hard to please soccer fans. My response was, and I can only answer this from my own personal experience, is that I was brought up on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and that my lens of how I view my TV experience is based on the benchmark that the BBC set. But that is totally unrealistic. The BBC has no commercials.

The perfect viewing experience for soccer is the BBC model with no advertising, no annoying tickers, just the score in the top left or top right corner, a brilliant commentator and a wonderful pre-game, half-time and post-game show. But, this is completely unrealistic unless we were willing to pay a subscription fee (or license fee, as in the BBC model) but I don’t see that happening.

The one form of advertising that seems to be universally accepted is the advertising signboards around the field and edges of the stadium. They don’t ruin the viewing experience and, while they can be distracting at times, they can also be enjoyable to watch. For example, when Gary Neville scored an own goal for England against Croatia and the advertising signboards flashed up adverts for the movie Borat at precisely the same moment.

For other soccer fans out there such as yourself, what would you say is an appropriate level of advertising either during, before, in the middle or after a game where the TV network can generate revenue to help pay for its very expensive TV rights and hopefully make  a profit — and it doesn’t ruin the TV viewing experience for you. What is that perfect balance? Click the comments link below and share your opinion. I’m really interested in reading your perspective.


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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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