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MLS Misses an Opportunity to Attract EPL TV Viewers

mls logo MLS Misses an Opportunity to Attract EPL TV Viewers

In the world of the English Premier League, it’s an incredibly long and boring weekend. There are no matches scheduled between now and next Saturday, so this would be a perfect opportunity for Major League Soccer to showcase their league to an audience of fans in the United States who normally don’t tune in. Show them what they’re missing. Give them a reason to tune in.

Except, MLS misses an opportunity once again.

Between now and Monday night, there are only two games on featuring MLS sides. Tonight at 9pm ET between Real Salt Lake and Philadelphia Union, and Monday at 6pm ET between Sporting KC and Los Angeles. Problem is that tonight’s game featuring Real Salt Lake isn’t televised nationally. It’s only available online. And Monday’s game is on FOX Soccer.

I realize that this is an international break that we’re in right now, but either MLS should decide to adhere to FIFA guidelines and not play competitive matches during this time, or they should play a full schedule to take advantage of a weekend when soccer fans have few viewing options.

This entry was posted in General, Leagues: EPL. Bookmark the permalink.

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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36 Responses to MLS Misses an Opportunity to Attract EPL TV Viewers

  1. Tom Bush says:

    Doesn’t help that ESPN is in full-on College Football mode now, maybe MLS wanted to show games this week and there were no slots open? I do agree it looks poor on the league, great opportunity missed as you said.

  2. I believe this was originally scheduled as an open weekend for MLS. The Union’s match against Real Salt Lake was moved to accommodate Real Madrid’s visit to Lincoln Financial Field. I would venture to guess the LA/KC match was moved for similar circumstances.

    • AK says:

      Correct, the KC game was originally scheduled for mid August.

    • The RSL v Union game was originally scheduled for April 23, three days after RSL were to play Monterrey away in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final and four days before the second leg at home. That’s why the game was rescheduled for September 3, to support RSL’s Champions League run. It was the Seattle v Union match originally scheduled for July 23 that was postponed so the Union could play Real Madrid. That match will now take place on October 8, which is during another FIFA international break,

  3. Keith says:

    Really? Why would a EPL van/viewer want to waste their time watching what might be flight/level 3 or 4 football? It isn’t even good comedy!

    • Gianlucca says:

      Absolute rubbish mate.
      Footy is Footy.
      Is the prem better, of course.
      But I still enjoy watching my local MLS side.
      So I suppose if your team gets relegated you should stop watching that
      crap. Its lower division football.
      Oh wait let me guess, you’ve decide to attach yourself to Man USA or Chelski.

  4. Trevor says:

    PHI/RSL game had nothing to do with Real Madrid. RM was at PPL Park, this game is at Rio Tinto, not related at all. It was moved to aid with RSL’s CONCACAF Champions League title run.

    But the point still stands, it was never supposed to be this weekend anyway. That game was supposed to be played in April.

    • @Trevor Oops, the Union game moved for Madrid was against the Sounders, but it was still an away date. And then the Sounders had to preempt a college football game scheduled for Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field on Microsoft Land.

  5. Tuttle says:

    I was wondering about this as well as I perused my various sources this morning. The only game on this weekend is opposite Oregon/LSU and Boise/Georgia? Brilliant!

    I want to like MLS. MLS doesn’t seem to want me to like it. It’s hard to find games on TV or streaming, it’s hard to follow with unbalanced schedules and byzantine playoff rules, there’s no quality review/highlights show (that I get or can find) and – of course – there’s no team even remotely local to me.

    I don’t care that much about pro/reg or FIFA schedules (other than that I think they’d favor teams more local to me) or, even, quality that much. I’ll watch drunken dwarves play the damn game… if I can find it! Or follow it on Munchkin Match of the Day or Soccer Made in Tinytown…

    • OleGunnar20 says:

      A. the schedule is balanced this season, as it was last season.

      B. the playoffs are no more labyrinthine than any other pro league’s playoffs. 10 teams make it … 4 play in a “wildcard” round and then it progresses by round from 8 to 4 to 2 … wow … super complicated! try understanding the playoff system in Belgium if you want complicated.

      C. there is a 30 minute review package on the mls website every monday …. gee … who would have thought to look there for a highlight package of the mls eh?

      any other totally invalid complaints?

      • Tuttle says:

        A. Not next season. There’s also the issue of playing the same round the same week. There’s still a four game spread in the number of matches played. Hard. To. Follow.

        B. At least the Juliper playoffs just play home and away in a group stage of six. MLS has to switch it up with single-match, home and away and neutral ground depending on the round. And that’s not even bringing the so-called divisions into it.

        C. I want quality critical analysis, not an infomercial. But MLS does not do criticism.

        I don’t think MLS’s issues are insurmountable, but it and its fans’ attitudes may be.

  6. JerZGooner says:

    I have no idea if it was FIFA mandated for no matches played. But I agree completely with the take of the piece, it was a huge opportunity missed. Why not have a targeted marketing campaign specifically geared toward gaining US based EPL fans? Play the games at earlier “EPL” times, get the pubs/bars involved, feature “derbys” or great competitive match ups. Feature the stars of the league, with EPL and Euro experience, in promos. If I was the MLS I wouldn’t even hide the fact you are trying to fill the void for the weekend. Maybe throw in MLS Direct Kick in for free for the weekend.

    Perhaps they can take advantage in the future.

  7. Gaz Hunt says:

    Agreed.

    You’re not going to convert the Americans that ignore the league (something even I, a Brit in the States, don’t at all understand) but the near-fans could get more invested.

    I always watch all the Philly games and one other interesting matchup but this would have been the perfect opportunity to get people like me to watch some more of the league.

  8. JerZGooner says:

    Perhaps NBC would be keen on a campaign like this to help get the new contract off to a good start????

  9. SoccerLimey says:

    Until the MLS changes it’s format to incorporate promotion and relegation, it will be a non-starter for any fans of European soccer. There are too many “dead” games at this time of year. In many other Leagues, the final month of the season is the most exciting.

  10. Duck says:

    Disagree, for so long there was so many complaints that the MLS played on FIFA International dates. Now that they’re honoring the dates, we have to hear that they should be playing?

    • The Gaffer says:

      Duck, good point, but MLS is playing two games this weekend, so either they need to abide by the FIFA international dates, or they shouldn’t. Since they’re playing two games this weekend, why not put on a full schedule and allow soccer fans around the country to go see their local team play in person, or allow soccer fans a chance to watch the games on television?

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • SoccerLimey says:

        I find some of the MLS fans and administrators aren’t interested in opening up to the so-called “Eurosnobs” like me. They want their League to be played in front of their fans in their format without any outside interference.

        It’s so typically American insularism and it reminds me of many high school soccer coaches who fail to make use of local club resources in the fear of being made to look inadequate.

        For laughs and giggles, go to any MLS based blog and try to push pro/rel – you’ll get skewered !!

        I used to go to MLS games regularly several years ago, and the reason I stopped wasn’t my decision. my boys who were all soccer players hated it because it was so boring. Go figure !

        • JerZGooner says:

          I would have to think it would be foolish for the MLS to decline an opportunity to increase its fanbase. As a growing league I think they have been hesitant to go too far outside the norm to American professional sports (league structure, playoffs, etc), afraid to alienate possible fans. I think as the fans become better versed in the sport the MLS will have more flexibility to adapt the league to a more European model (relegation, calendar, etc). Gaining EPL fans could only accelerate this possibility.

          I don’t think the MLS’s methods are “insularism” as much as careful business strategy. Getting a successful football league off the ground in the US has been a major challenge in the past. It is gaining a foothold now and some creative marketing could be an effective boost.

        • Jason says:

          >I find some of the MLS fans and administrators aren’t interested in opening up to the so-called “Eurosnobs” like me.

          That’s because we’ve figured out there’s no converting the Eurosnobs. You will *always* come up with a reason not to bother.

          For example, take this post. First the Eurosnobs complain about MLS playing on international dates. Then they complain about MLS *not* playing on an international date.

          >For laughs and giggles, go to any MLS based blog and try to push pro/rel – you’ll get skewered !!

          Maybe because we prefer to deal in a reality-based world? I’d love pro-rel, too, but I also know there’s no way owners shell out $40M or $50M for a stadium if there’s a chance the team gets relegated. We’ve only just started being paid for television rights; that does not happen if there’s a chance of no presence in New York.

          The NFL can do without LA because it’s the NFL. But pretty much no sports league in the US can get a TV deal without a New York team.

          That might change in the future. The Internet and mobile phone apps may make television the equivalent to radio today, with people paying for what they want to watch. But for now, it’s a non-starter.

          You’d have to restructure a hell of a lot of things, and have a hell of a lot more money involved to protect teams. A couple of years ago, Cleveland City Stars decided to take promotion after winning the third division championship. Their one season in the second division resulted in them going out of business, because it turned out they couldn’t afford the step up (higher player salaries, travel expenses of going from a primarily East Coast league to a continental league. How Edmonton and even Minnesota can afford it now, being as isolated as they are from the rest of the league, I have no idea)

          • reidscott says:

            Excellent post. Pay attention. Thanks!!

          • Morgan Wick says:

            American sports are just so incredibly different from European sports, and the championship and league structures are sufficiently reflective of this, that any “Eurosnobs” that seriously propose that MLS go to pro/rel are either idiots or don’t watch any other American sports whatsoever.

        • Sgc says:

          Well, since I would have to think it’s been pointed out to you that you could be a lot less of a jerk in how you express your option (such as, di instance, confining it to those threads where it’s relevant and not harassing this site’s readers where it isn’t), and that this decrease in jerkiness would reduce the chances of your posting being counter-productive, I have to conclude you want it this way.

  11. EvertonfanKY says:

    MLS – Mickeymouse League Soccer need I say more .

  12. Ivan says:

    I tried watching MLS, and I still do on occasion, but for me, the league is just another NFL/MLB clone, and I can’t stand these profit-sharing, single-entity, mediocrity-promoting leagues.
    The conferences/no sinlge table, still playing w/ the Adidas Jabulani monstrocity, lack of promo/relegation, ridiculous playoff system, “pay to play”: Montreal Impact, all these things are just drive me crazy…maybe once the Don is gone and a non-NFL person is put in charge of the league, I can come back. Heck, by living in Tampa, I got my dose of live footey, the Rowdies are doing just fine (in a single table division II league, playing w/ a real ball, not the Jabulani abomination) and, as far as I am concerned, they are better than half the MLS teams anyway.
    Heck, the second to worst team in Division II, Montreal Impact, will get “promoted” to the MLS next season. What is wrong w/ that picture? This is a bigger joke than Qatar getting to host the World Cup over the US. In what universe is ok to promote mediocrity? Only in the make-believe universe of Don Garber. I am out.

  13. reidscott says:

    Wow a clone. Your so cool.

  14. MG says:

    Hating on the MLS is so passé..

  15. Kejsare says:

    Complain that MLS plays on FIFA International dates. Done.

    MLS attempts to at least honor one weekend. Done.

    Complain that MLS doesn’t play on FIFA International dates. What????

    A lot of people who disdain MLS and watch Euro leagues most likely are not from the West Coast. Don’t bother me at 4am on Saturday morning. I want to sleep!

  16. Joe says:

    As a fan of both leagues, I kind of like the international break. I take a break from soccer too, and come back eager to watch more next weekend.

  17. US fan1 says:

    Are EPL bandwagoners always such uneducated, hypocritical a**holes?

    First they complain why MLS continues to play during FIFA international days, and then turn around and complain again why MLS stopped playing during FIFA international days.

    Why are you EPL sh*t-heads so concerned & interested in telling us how unconcerned & uninterested you are about MLS.

  18. fairplay says:

    I watch MLS and EPL… the only thing stopping bandwagon North American EPL fans from following MLS is ignorance.

  19. Lefaid says:

    EPL fans already had a very good opportunity to get into MLS. It was called this summer. During the months of June and July, competitive games were not played all that often while the MLS was in the middle of their season. I think that is a plus to the MLS’s schedule personally, it ensures that American soccer fans always have soccer to watch at anytime. Honestly, it was this break in worldwide league soccer that got me into MLS in the first place.

    • The Gaffer says:

      True, but this summer was filled with Copa America, Women’s World Cup, u-20 World Cup, u-17 World Cup, in addition to Premier League club’s pre-season tours around the world as well as the u-21 European Championships. To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of time for MLS, sorry to say.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

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