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Who's watching?

GP Staff

Consider that the league brokered a 10 year, $250 million contract to make adidas the league’s sole uniform supplier in 2005. With 2006 came Soccer United Marketing’s landmark $60 million television rights deal that kept MLS with the Disney family of networks. Last year the league announced a multi-million dollar deal to televise games on NBC networks. All of the hard bargaining was tied tied to the hope that Beckham, Henry, and Marquez would bring in viewers.

When asked if David Beckham would sign with MLS, league executive Dan Courtemanche replied in 2006, “We’re looking for those marquee players and great match-ups to define us. Ratings are important and so much hinges on television.”


"Ratings are important. So much hinges on television."

One can’t fault MLS for placing so much emphasis on designated players. But, clearly recent results in the CONCACAF Champions League bear out, that it is the league’s domestic player who needs the most attention. Said one MLS coach at the recent NSCAA Coaches Convention, “You got one of the game’s all time greats setting up a teammate with a brilliant pass and he scuffs his shot or shoots well wide. That’s not great to watch.”

Critics have proposed a promotion/relegation system and a more meaningful US Open Cup tournament. MLS brass will be the first to admit, the league and the American soccer pyramid is a long way from being able to support either. While growing attendance and revenue sharing from summer friendly matches has ensured short term survival, it will not be enough to give the league a wider audience it needs to thrive.

- More to follow.




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