So this is what it means to get relegated from a soccer channel to a nationally televised channel along with their soon to be re-named sports network? So this is how it feels when one of the three national broadcasters in the United States decides to promote our country’s first division league during an NFL pre-season game?
It also means twice as many households that receive Versus (soon to be NBC Sports Network in January of 2012) and not enough for FOX Soccer and FOX Soccer Plus. While most of the games will be on cable, at least two regular season games and two playoff games will be on the NBC national channel.
How many soccer games have been on the FOX national channel either in MLS, the English Premiership, the Italian Serie A, or the Australian A-League? The correct answer to that question is absolutely zero. Only the final of the UEFA Champions League gets that honor (twice) and so far the production hasn’t been up to snuff.
I find it interesting how some of our readers have commented that FOX Soccer wouldn’t pay the $20 million ransom to MLS for the rights to televise the games. To be honest, it sounded like more of a test to see whether FOX would be loyal to its American soccer league. But as we have seen, it seems to be that FOX likes to work on the cheap.
If you read the article by The Gaffer on EPL Talk, you can tell he is fed up with FOX Soccer’s revamped broadband service as the system has either refused to accept passwords or crashed entirely from the paying customers that FOX Soccer so desperately needs. The gods of English Premiership viewing channel just pushes a few buttons, moved the satellite in a certain position and bam, instant joy.
For Major League Soccer this move was necessary. The sport has done well in the growth of players, stadiums and bringing in some of the best names in the world. But there are certain things that haven’t been growing and one of them has been the promotion of the games in the USA.
If it’s not the regional sports networks of FOX Sports Net, Comcast Sportsnet, or Madison Square Garden Network promoting from within, then the national look has been lacking. This is why NBC offered their services and said they want to grow the game.
This introductory contract of three years is the start of something wonderful. This is the fresh start that Major League Soccer needed to make a mark on the national stage. At the same time NBC has become a willing partner to make this growth special.
Personally I have always felt that NBC provides the best coverage for the professional and collegiate sports leagues throughout their history from Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA, NHL, Notre Dame football, tennis, golf, and very soon Major League Soccer.
So I believe they will make sure that the right people will be picked for their studio show and their broadcast team at the games. But I have to say that if this is what it means to get relegated from a soccer channel that doesn’t care about MLS, then to me it’s a promotion like no other.