USL, which is a sanctioned second division by the United States Soccer Federation, has undertaken a massive effort to increase accessibility of its product to viewers while improving production in a cost-effective way. The league has undertaken a massive $10 million effort to enhance its productions, both for digital and television. The league has also launched a television network that syndicates games in local markets.
The league is the largest second division in the world in terms of teams and broadcasting matches at a high level both for television and digital. It remains a challenge, but one that USL seems well-ahead of the curve in tackling.
World Soccer Talk sat down with USL Executive Vice President Tom Veit this week. Veit spoke to us from USL’s Tampa (Florida) Headquarters and gave a wide-ranging interview about all aspects of USL’s vision, success and remaining challenges for its broadcast and production arm.
World Soccer Talk: What was the genesis behind USL Productions? How did the league come around to the decision to do this?
Tom Veit: We were looking at the long-term future of the league where we wanted to go. Mass media rights are very important so we were already producing the games. We already have over 500 quality football matches being played (in our league) – we realize [we] needed to produce these for content at a professional level and for distribution professionally. So, the genesis was this needed to be produced for television and all the video content, and we needed to put it in a format to distribute it not only for today but for all of the new content and formats that will be coming in the future. We also were looking into building it into something commercially viable for us in the long-term.
World Soccer Talk: As someone who personally has worked in the D2 business (for NASL and USL clubs as well as NASL itself), I can attest that this proved to be a massively expensive undertaking for clubs when it comes to streaming and handling broadcasts. USL Productions seems a really centralized and wise decision to offset costs. Have the teams found it this way?
Tom Veit: Part of this is economies of scale and bringing all the teams together on the same platform in the same production arm. We’re investing close to $10 million into this initiative and a structure that allows the teams to do this at a reasonable cost. We believed this was an investment in our league’s future as much as in players and stadiums, etc.