World Soccer Talk: How did the USL TV Network come about? You’re getting games on local over-the-air affiliates in your markets in what must have been a massive undertaking.
Tom Veit: That was part of the plan all along. We looked at a multi-tiered strategy. One was local, two was national and international, and three was a digital strategy. We are using cutting-edge technology to transmit games to deliver high quality broadcast TV to each station. All sports are still local, and the greatest value to any sports property is local fans and markets seeing you. Those fans then grow into national and international markets. Our first goal was to get our teams in their local markets on TV. That was our ultimate goal, and we’ve gone from three teams to 17 teams and some more to come with local affiliate deals. At the end of the day, you have to have your community involved with the team and everything grows from there.
World Soccer Talk: USL is in five of the largest twelve TV markets in the US and three of the six biggest in Canada, which is a lot for a second division. Has being in big markets helped stimulate the TV deals the league enjoys?
Tom Veit: From the local deals, it was great to be in those markets but what is unique now is that communities are looking for content again now. The old syndication model that went away with the growth of regional sports (cable) networks now is shifting, and stations want local programming again. What is old is new again. Getting local sports on stations is the holy grail for these channels because it is local, it’s more or less DVR/Tivo proof, and it involves the local cities. Being in those big markets is great but our local focus helps in every market.
World Soccer Talk: That’s interesting about the syndication model because I am sensing many fans here in Florida and the Southeast are disappointed they cannot get as many games in college sports on the over-the-air channels anymore and I feel the pendulum might swing back in the next few years.
Tom Veit: I am old enough to remember working in the world with Jefferson Pilot and Raycom in those days and I’ve taken those ideas and people say “that’s a great idea,” (because they don’t remember the syndication of sports days on local channels) but that’s our model with this – we have the ability to syndicate that and grow that.