USL leads the way with improved TV and digital coverage from USL Productions
World Soccer Talk: Some of the broadcasts had a real nice local feel with local announcers. But as we see with leagues like the Premier League and Bundesliga, they broadcast all games with neutral announcers – was this the thinking behind USL Productions?
Tom Veit: It’s an evolution. Some teams still do announcers based in their cities. We are trying to develop consistency with all the announcers doing games. And as the season wears on, you’re seeing them get more involved, talking to the teams, talking to coaches and the PR directors. It’s really important for us as a league that those announcers have a connection to the local teams. As time goes on, talent will go on site and get involved that way, so it is definitely something that is evolving.
World Soccer Talk: Did USL look at centralized productions abroad like the Bundesliga and Premier League when developing USL Productions?
Tom Veit: We looked across the globe and right here in the United States. We looked at those leagues across the globe but also here at home at the Big Ten Network and ACC Network. We looked at the NFL and MLB, and what leagues were doing both on TV and digital and hopefully stealing the best [ideas] for our production. We’ve brought many ideas together and they are reflected in the product we are delivering.
World Soccer Talk: Making the jump from YouTube, which is super accessible, to more TV games is a healthy sign for the league. But does it potentially impact the ability of some fans to see games? You’ve added an ESPN package and last season I heard a few complaints about last year’s final, a game just about everyone who follows domestic soccer in this country wanted to see. You had Swope Park Rangers and Red Bull II with all the good, young exciting prospects, some of the best in this country. But instead of being on YouTube the game was on on ESPNU, which was according to some far less accessible for them than YouTube.
Tom Veit: Obviously when you switch platforms, some people are resistant but we wanted to make our games accessible and to increase exposure. We wanted to make sure everyone has an ability to watch games whether at home or at local bars, etc. It’s definitely something we weighed but the value to keep growing the USL product and drive more fans to our league was the determining factor.