TV Fees – The Key to MLS’ Future

Annual Domestic Television Rights
 TV Fees $3,100,000,000  $952,000,000  $930,000,000  $170,500,000  $23,000,000 
 45.2% Distribution $1,401,739,130  $430,469,565  $420,521,739  $77,095,652  $10,400,000 
 Per Team $43,804,348  $14,348,986  $14,017,391  $2,569,855  $693,333 

This is the comparison of team shares of national domestic rights fees if all leagues distributed the same 45.2% as did MLS after 2007 based on the Forbes report. I believe, however, that the players’ unions in the ‘Big 4’ cut better deals vis-a-vis TV money for their players.

As an example of how important the TV revenues are, I present this simple scenario. Many fans have suggested raising the salary cap to $5M. With 18 teams, the differential from $2.3M to $5M means an additional $48.6M for player salaries($2.7M per team).

Hey, I love the idea, imagine what the extra money would mean for roster quality. But how to get the money? Tickets sales just won’t do it. TV is where the big bucks are.

Jason Davis’ take on the effects of the low salary cap.

Which brings me back to my belief that the focus of the leagues should be improving the quality on the field. That leads to better audiences and a better chance that the rights fees extended and enhanced. And with MLS via SUM as flush as its going to be, after all, expansion won’t go on forever, the importance of the upcoming CBA talks between the league and the Major League Soccer Players Union may be the big opportunity to take a step towards a better on field product.

Liz Mullen and Tripp Mickle, writing for SportsBusiness Journal posted this on the negotiations. Major League Soccer Players Union Fires Opening Salvo.


I have to thank The Gaffer and Kartik, for it was on the heels of their recent thought provoking pieces, MLS TV Ratings Are Doomed Because Of Euro Football by The Gaffer of EPL Talk, and Kartik’s MLS’ TV Problem: Discussing Possible Solutions, that I finally put to words the thoughts that have been bouncing around my head on the issue of MLS, its quality and continued advancement. And I also thank many of the commenters who also helped stir the pot. A few standouts from Kartik’s post are

by YAR H – “The solution though if simple would have been implemented already. No easy answers my friends. None. MLS is under performing.”

by Soccer Guru comment #87 “MLS has been oversold by ESPN for years. Now that they have La Liga and EPL they will build their brand around those respectable products, not around something that has constantly failed for years.” Worth reading the full reply.

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  1. Derek September 3, 2009
  2. Mitch Howard September 4, 2009
  3. soccer goals September 4, 2009
  4. T-MaN September 4, 2009
  5. Rex September 4, 2009
  6. Mitch Howard September 5, 2009
  7. Jammer September 5, 2009

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