ESPN Making Changes To MLS Broadcasts

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Outside of the Inauguration, it's a pretty slow news day, which probably explains why I'm posting on the MLS. ESPN has decided to drop it's Thursday, Major League Soccer game of the week, and will be moving to a rotating set of days throughout the week. Via Sports Business Journal....

After two years of anemic ratings that started low and finished lower, ESPN executives decided to cancel the league’s regular Thursday night telecast on ESPN2 this season. In its place, ESPN2 will carry an MLS game of the week, which will air on four different nights during the season. The weekly matches will occur on Thursdays (10 times), Saturdays (eight times), Wednesdays (six times) and Fridays (three times).

“We didn’t see the kind of ratings climb we’d like to, so we’re trying something different,” said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN vice president of programming.

The decision to cancel the regular Thursday night game marks a stunning turnaround for a league that two years ago believed it was creating destination programming that would increase interest in MLS. But even the 2007 arrival of David Beckham couldn’t boost MLS ratings.
This is news is another sobering hit that alludes to Soccer never really being able to gain solid footing in the U.S. It's a shame too because of the popularity of the Sport throughout the rest of the World.

ESPN booting MLS from its Thursday slot (Sports Business Journal)

Posted by Awful Announcing at 2:18 PM


I think it represents that the MLS is not gaining appeal, not necessarily that soccer as a whole doesn't have an appeal. I think their ratings for the UEFA Champions League are good and if I recall correctly, the Euro2008 tournament had good ratings here as well. People like soccer, they just don't like the BS product that the MLS has tried, and probably never will.

Ted said...
Jan 20, 2009, 2:49:00 PM  

The MLS is a tough sell since its basically minor league soccer. It's like living in Greece and watching the Greek Basketball League. Sure it's fun for some who love basketball...but the best players leave to play in the NBA.

Ed James said...
Jan 20, 2009, 4:57:00 PM  

International soccer is gaining appeal in the States. Witness the ESPN/EPL stories you've seen AA post. Also witness the English/Spanish/Italian league scores popping up on ESPN's BottomLine.

As time passes, I think MLS could achieve an equivalent status on the global soccer stage as the Brazilian and Mexican leagues... the best players go to Europe, but there will be enough of a soccer culture here to prop up our own league. MLS could become the latest sport to rotate in and out as the fourth major sport, after the NHL and NASCAR.

Of course, MLS is odd in the world of soccer in that it has a playoff and it doesn't have promotion and relegation, but European leagues in other sports like basketball have promotion and relegation too.

Morgan Wick said...
Jan 20, 2009, 10:19:00 PM  

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