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Amazon, Apple, ESPN and ViX+ news: World Soccer Talk Podcast

In the NEW episode, number 1426, Christopher Harris is joined by co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer.

In this episode, we discuss ESPN’s coverage of Women’s Euro 2022, news about Amazon getting Champions League rights, which US broadcaster is interested in getting the rights to the 2030 World Cup and a discussion about how USL is moving in on MLS’s turf. Plus we also have questions from you, the listeners.

Listen to the show via the player above or via this link.

Launched in 2006, the World Soccer Talk Podcast is the longest running podcast on the planet. Every week, we share the latest news about watching soccer on television and streaming, in addition to discussing what we like and dislike, and featuring your questions and feedback in our Listener Mailbag segment.

HEAR MORE: Listen to our archive featuring hundreds of soccer interviews

Send in your questions, comments and feedback via e-mail, via Twitter (@worldsoccertalk) or Facebook. We’ll read them out on-air in the next episode.

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  1. Ra

    July 14, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    I got an email from the Athletic saying that I now have free access to the site as part of my NYTimes home delivery subscription.
    Any suggestions on articles on streaming and broadcast rights trends?

    • SteveK

      July 15, 2022 at 8:25 am

      Richard Deitsch covers that the most on The Athletic, for all sports; Matt Slater is more soccer specific and. also writes about British and Euro rights.

  2. Lee Gaucher

    July 9, 2022 at 2:11 pm

    @Christopher Harris

    Background noise on Kartik’s audio is quite distracting. Please, consider cleaning things up before uploading the podcast.

  3. Roberto

    July 9, 2022 at 10:06 am

    An area that is not mentioned is actual attendance at stadiums. Last year the MLS was number six
    on the list for average attendance. This year the numbers are up and the MLS has passed France on the list, so they are the fifth most attended league in the world!

    • dave

      July 9, 2022 at 7:36 pm

      @Roberto, in-person attendance is an intriguing aspect of MLS. Fifth in the world is fantastic! MLS atmospheres often look great on highlights, especially Sounders and Timbers
      Any thoughts on why strong in-person demand does not translate to strong national ratings? It is the opposite of many US sports that are signing jaw-dropping rights deals yet starting to (or continuing to) struggle to get fans to attend

      • Roberto

        July 10, 2022 at 8:29 am

        @Dave,that may be beyond my ability but here’s what see as the problem. Paying large contracts to BIG names. Miami wasted millions on Gonzalo and Chicago that has many needs giving a huge contract for one player, who spends too much time standing around.
        At least the past couple of years some teams like Dallas and Nashville have given DP contracts to America players. The league needs American stars. Too many pundits as soon as a player has a good year, start talking about their coming move (is Pepi better off?). This is a disaster.
        Sure that is where the money is and where and so far the standard of play is higher, the two are connected. THE EPL is the best league because they have the most money. If they had to depend on just U.K. players would they still be on top?
        Well this is too wordy a more thoughtful, concise person could do a better job. I would suggest this for a pod but for how much I like Chris and Kartik there is an anti MLS undertone to their MLS coverage.
        Lastly, probably what should have been first is like others have said, world football is a minor sport in the U.S. and will remain that way. Here in small town NC it is American rules football, baseball and NASCAR, mainly. Charlotte FC is not mentioned in the local newspaper. European football (mainly) is cool and promoted big time.

        • Ra

          July 10, 2022 at 9:48 am

          I don’t agree with your opinion of WST bias against MLS. Being a podcast about world football, I think that MLS already gets waaay too much attention on the pod. From a global perspective, MLS is irrelevant.
          Also, there are plenty of issues to be addressed at MLS, and ratings reflect that. By any measure, MLS should be the first soccer league in interest in the country, which they are not. As an example, I live in a big metro area with no MLS team. As a result, I have zero interest in the league. I actually prefer USL over MLS, as there is a local team here. I am also not passionate on cheering bored billionaires assets.
          You would be better served by a MLS fanclub website to hear uncritical praise for the league.

          • Roberto

            July 10, 2022 at 10:31 am

            There is nothing wrong with constructive criticism (your knowledge & ideas would be useful). WST does not totally ignore the MLS and does, sometimes, offer constructive criticism. The MLS is I agree (slowly) addressing it’s problems. Like I have said before the ghosts of the old NASL still scare the league leadership. Actually if you include game attendance and TV viewing, they are the top league.
            The triangle area as you say is a large metro area it is such a mega-mess, where would a large central stadium go (they would be better off with several USL teams)?
            About the global perspective, why should I care?

  4. Mercator

    July 8, 2022 at 1:40 pm

    Good pod again.

    First, I have to take serious issue with Kartik’s comments about London not being a football town, and you have 100% lost the plot if you think Paris is more of a Rugby town than football. Manchester and Liverpool and villages compared to London, of course match day isn’t able to drown out everything else in London the way it is in Liverpool. Maybe Kartik was just on the wrong tube line but having lived in London for years, I can tell you every match day the Overground and Piccadilly are packed with fans, to the point where my coworkers would complain about the crazy fans drinking and singing on the tube. Paris is a football town as well, and its certainly NOT a rugby town. This is such a bizarre statement I wonder where it even comes from – the vast majority of Parisians couldn’t tell you one rugby player or the rules of the game (most regard it as some English nonsense), while even the homeless in Paris are now in PSG kits. Very bizarre comments – literally everywhere Football is clearly and obviously number 1, the only places I can recall where this is clearly NOT the case is North America, Aussie/NZ and Indian subcontinent.

    I think you guys are a bit too excited about the USL numbers. The point kept getting made USL’s recent numbers are without any marketing effort by ESPN, but I don’t think ESPN marketing matters much at all. It hasn’t done much for MLS so why would it bump USL numbers? If you put soccer on TV you will get a set number of viewers happy to watch any game – marketing isn’t going to significantly improve that because the pool of interested people is pretty set. Now USL may be better for ESPN from a cost perspective since they pay nothing, but its never going to get ratings much higher than MLS because why would it? Keep in mind the USL games were also a novelty – I watched it because its the only USL game on TV. When the novelty wears off I expect you would see worse numbers, not improving ones.

    Amazon getting a portion of the UCL rights in the UK is great, it will be a huge hit. Many people have Amazon Prime so its quite easy to watch the matches in comparison to paying an arm and a leg to watch BT or Sky. The Amazon PL matches over xmas were a huge hit among my friends because most don’t have Sky or BT, so the Amazon games were the few they could easily watch without pirating. We are very lucky to have CBS presenting the UCL here, they have done a great job and really made the games easily accessible and cheap to watch.

  5. JP

    July 7, 2022 at 10:48 pm

    Great discussion, some thoughts in no particular order

    Funny to hear Kartik admit ESPN+ has made Bundesliga more niche. When the announcement was made prior to the 2020/2021 season it was all positive, and those of us who had reservations about its impact on growth/awareness were mostly disregarded in the euphoria of them leaving Fox. For all of Fox’s faults, no doubt Bundesliga had more exposure with them.
    But, I’ll once again take the opposite view now and say MLS to Apple is a net positive for the league. They may be years ahead of the curve for an American professional sports league, but all streaming and access to everything in one location is where everything is headed. The younger generation does not watch linear television.

    Another ESPN thought. I cannot stand the “ESPN treatment”. Whether it’s football, basketball, hockey, or even soccer, their coverage is usually much worse than the competition. ESPN by far in last place among CBS/Fox/NBC in their NFL production. TNT blows them away in both NBA and NHL. When I watch events on ESPN properties it’s out necessity, not choice. I don’t get all the love for their soccer coverage. Some La Liga matches were unwatchable because they force Alejandro Moreno on us.
    If it were Fox who had the women’s Euro rights and decided not to send any commentators to the UK and instead call all the matches from studio there’s no doubt you guys would be killing them for not taking it seriously enough and/or being cheap and lazy.

    Not a MLS fan, but there is definitely a small bias against it here. You keep mentioning Garber’s ratings projections made a decade ago for reasons to be critical of their current numbers. Executives in all industries make all sorts of promises/projections to their business partners. Sometimes they hit, oftentimes the real world intervenes and they miss. The real world here is that Garber’s projections back then were pie in the sky wishful thinking. MLS faces so many headwinds in terms of other sports entertainment options. That’s the reality.
    The USFL championship game on Sunday got about 1.5 million viewers….for a what is basically a minor league and on July 4th weekend when many people probably on vacation and not following. That number would be newsworthy for any Euro soccer league and 50-70% of what an MLS championship game would get. All this for a league in its 1st year featuring 2nd rate football talent. Goes to show how far ahead football is of everything else here and just how niche soccer still is. That is what MLS faces, killing them for ratings as if its their fault is just absurd. It’s just the culture in this country.

    • dave

      July 7, 2022 at 11:41 pm

      @JP, USFL is a good example of why I do not consider 150k-200k viewers for USL on ESPN all that impressive. If ESPN’s only options were USL and MLS, I can see the argument for USL – ratings at least in the ballpark of MLS, much cheaper, growth potential with promotion, etc. But ESPN has plenty of low-cost options that may draw more viewers. A few recent mid-day weekend examples on ESPN: WNBA ~300k, SportsCenter ~400k
      As a soccer comparison, Liga MX kicked off this weekend. Saturday showcase game viewers:
      * Early game ~1.1 million (800k OTA, 300k TUDN)
      * Late game ~1.5 million (1.1 million OTA, 400k TUDN)

  6. Ra

    July 7, 2022 at 10:03 pm

    @Chris Do you guys have anything against Libertadores? The broadcast deal is in the imminence of happening, and it gets never mentioned when you discuss future rights. Libertadores rights will be over before the end of this year, or I am wrong?

    • Christopher Harris

      July 7, 2022 at 10:37 pm

      Hi Ra, nothing against Copa Lib. There just isn’t news to report yet. We’re following the rights deal closely.

      • Ra

        July 8, 2022 at 10:29 pm

        @Chris Thank you for the reply. It is good to know. I was doing a weekly google search because I was unsure it would be covered at the pod once the news were out. No need for that now.

  7. dave

    July 7, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    Good discussion as usual. I am happy you plan to keep producing great WST content while also enjoying benefits from the new corporate structure. Congratulations!
    1. Consistent windows and whip-around shows seem like positives of the Apple-MLS deal. Golazo Show enhances my enjoyment of UEL/UECL since I can sample high points of many matches featuring teams I might otherwise never see
    2. Interesting to hear some MLS owners are not thrilled with the Apple deal. Given frothy markets, I thought MLS might get $350 million per year for US only. On a per-team basis, the Turkish Lig-beIN deal is roughly double Apple-MLS, at least for the next 2 years
    3. Related to comments about the next UCL deal in the US, do you think there is a bubble in sports rights? With soccer and many sports, it is hard to see recent and (especially) proposed deals as ROI positive. Amazon and Apple do not need short-term ROI, but neither is so undisciplined as to eternally light money on fire

    • Edwin

      July 8, 2022 at 11:28 am

      Funny seeing Chris bring up a quote that by Michael Ozanian of Forbes that was immediately
      called into question and ridiculed soon as he tweeted it for lack of folks believing it and critiquing the vagueness and how it was phrased with things like said like. The majority of owners he’s spoken to(How many owners did he speak to 3 or 4) lol

      Chris and Kartik however didn’t mention a far more credible Journalist with street cred like John Ourand of Sports Business Journal saying on the Marchand & Ourand Podcast that the reason he believes ESPN and Fox are doing deals with MLS is that they want to help out MLS and Don Garber. Saying that Garber is well respected and liked figure by those in the Sports and Media Executives.

      I’m not saying that some source at one point in time didn’t tell Kartik at one point that some shareholders weren’t happy with MLS TV numbers 5-10 yrs ago. But it obvious things change and if ESPN and FOX were so unhappy with MLS I doubt as John Ourand mentioned they’d all genuinely like and respect Garber and want to help him and Major League Soccer out.

      So back to this Forbes guy his tweet faced a bunch of ridicule and quote tweeting from folks associated with soccer and MLS his tweet was critically quote Tweeted by folks like Taylor Twellman and Johnathan Tannenwald. Twellman said it made little sense if the Maority Owners were really against it then why then sign the deal. Tannenwald was more diplomatic saying while he likes and respect Mike Ozanian the jist of his tweet was umm… as he too hopped in on Twellman’s Quote tweet.

      Mike Ozanian is no MLS expert and only really has talked about MLS in passing usually negatively when there’s a big MLS story in the news. His most public indepth discussion on the YES Network. They had a Christmas holiday special in 2013 with Sal Galatioto and Michael Ozanian. They were way off the mark.

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