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How different is MLS than USL? – World Soccer Talk Podcast

In episode 1432, World Soccer Talk Podcast hosts Christopher Harris and Kartik Krishnaiyer discuss the most interesting stories in the world of soccer media.

This week, on the heels of USL side Sacramento Republic beating another MLS team in the US Open Cup, we debate what the differences are between Major League Soccer and USL.

We also share the latest news on the developments of the MLS media rights deal, which broadcasters are left, and what it means based on the already signed deal with Apple TV.

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. Daniel

    July 31, 2022 at 11:30 pm

    Why was this podcast so short?? I don’t like this takeover AT ALL guys.

  2. Darth+Bill

    July 31, 2022 at 10:02 am

    Woohoo! I made it on the podcast!
    I was startled when I heard my pseudonym. I was wondering just when I started listening to the podcast about where they get the “mailbag” issues. Now I know.

  3. Mercator

    July 31, 2022 at 6:57 am

    The USL has clubs that will stick because none of them can meet the requirements for MLS (and once they can make the jump they probably will). Rowdies are great, but not MLS capable and won’t be soon without some stadium, which Tampa Bay can’t even build for the MLB team they already have. Sacramento fell out for a reason. I think in every USL market if you asked the average soccer fan, a vast majority would rather have an MLS team than a USL team. I also think most people who watch soccer can see a clear difference between the USL and MLS. All of this reminds me of fans of Pac 10 schools insisting they don’t want to join the Big 10 and that Pac 12 is just as fun and competitive. Even if you really believe that, no one else does.

    Didn’t the MLS open up bidding to the rights? Didn’t they look at all the bids and decide to take apple? If any of these networks were going to pay big money, they didn’t show it when they bid apparently. Univision paid MLS $15 million a year under the last deal, its small potatoes compared to what Apple will pay. I actually think it sounds like Donnie G played his card right – secured the big guaranteed money from Apple and now can go ask Univision/MLS/Fox for money for non-exclusive rights knowing they need some domestic soccer and want to be seen as an MLS partner. If he was smart, MLS will do shorter TV deals so they can renew right after the 26 World Cup (which is not aligned with Apple’s 10 yr deal). Of course Univision, Fox and ESPN won’t like this because they can’t lowball the MLS on a long term contract like the Pac10 or ACC, but at the end of the day they will pay something to put MLS games on TV.

    • Edwin

      July 31, 2022 at 11:31 pm

      Spot on, one thing folks have missed is MLS actually positioned themselves well here for the reasons you stated. They secured the bag and stay on TV.

      If they continue being smart as you say they do a short 4-5 yr deal to align the next deal off the wave of the 2026 WC. ESPN and FOX may end up getting a discount on a short term deal because they lost exclusivity to Apple and think viewership will drop but if there isn’t a big drop ot numbers stay the same or rise combined with the likely World Cup bump ESPN and FOX will have to pay more for rights

    • dave

      August 2, 2022 at 7:39 pm

      @Mercator, I like your Pac-12 and B1G analogy. It is interesting how so many entities are publicly delighted with their current arrangement one day, then signing a new arrangement the next day
      Sacramento to MLS was a complex transaction and one of the billionaires got cold feet about growing financial commitments and coronavirus. It is a solid example of your point, as a lot of Sacramento stakeholders were publicly disappointed when MLS fell through. I believe they are seeking a replacement billionaire, so maybe it still happens
      I suspect a similar point may apply to MLS-Apple. In this frothy rights environment, almost every entity is falling into an ocean of guaranteed cash. From what I read, MLS had no credible offers for the full package other than from Apple. So, while MLS may state publicly that they are happy to be out of the legacy cash cow model, I suspect there may be at least an undertone of sour grapes

      • Roberto

        August 3, 2022 at 9:42 am

        Dave it is probably too late for an MLS team in Sacramento, they are about to break ground on a 12,000 seat stadium but that is the USLs gain. This is a major loss for the MLS because of their wonderful supporters. Instead the next team to be picked will more then likely be Los Vegas. If the MLS was truly pro-environment, there would be no team in Vegas. The SW does not need more development but stupid people are still moving there with water running out. But stupidity is a topic for other sites.
        Last night’s first gamewas why the MLS is so exciting. The Red Bulls vs the Rapids was a prime example of great skill and serious ineptitude in the same game but a 5-4 game with constant action made for an very action packed game.
        Seattle needs some young, skilled forwards next year, this year will end badly.

  4. Werner Lohe

    July 30, 2022 at 11:14 am

    I can’t see anywhere on the site whether transcripts of these blogs are available somewhere…. Does anyone know?

    • Christopher Harris

      July 30, 2022 at 11:31 am

      We don’t have transcripts of the podcast available currently. But we’re looking into the possibility for future episodes.

  5. dave

    July 29, 2022 at 6:27 pm

    Enjoyable and informative as usual
    * The Q&A discussed the many soccer viewing options. WST delivers on your stated goal of making this easy for end users. “Upcoming Games” informs me of game and viewing options, allowing me to sample a variety of club and international games. Fantastic resource!
    * I know neither of you are big fans of 538 SPI, but it is a data point to consider in assessing relative league quality. You rate USL closer to MLS than does 538:
    1. EFL Championship (SPI range 32-60, median ~40)
    2. MLS (SPI range 33-57, median ~40)
    3. USL (SPI range 5-31, median ~20)
    * I agree MLS is taking big risks with Apple and $250 million per year seems far too low for the risk assumed. Strikes me as a much better deal for Apple than for MLS. The objections you claim Univision are raising were easily foreseeable. MLS should have discussed and negotiated these with Apple prior to signing and announcing the Apple deal

    • Roberto

      July 30, 2022 at 10:31 am

      It was good to hear your analysis of Sacramento’s cup run. I have always liked teams with a high work rate. They have advanced via hustle and a somewhat smooth run of opponents. Only part of the MLS teams took the league cup seriously. If Orlando continues to play like they did last week, the Republic’s dream will probably come to an end.
      To say this run shows the MLS and USL are close to parity is a stretch. A couple of USL teams could possibly complete. What is positive is the great fan support. The MLS took a while to learn that their stadiums needed to be downtown. MLS teams like Dallas and New England will always have a hard time drawing big crowds. The leagues really need to cooperate, not compete.
      Lastly, there are still and probably for quite awhile be plenty of people who have cable and a few who still see their games OTA. So, ESPN and Univision can continue to be an outlet for lots of folks.

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