Ok, so no one seemed to get my obscure 80's band reference the other day
. But the news that was hinted the other day has come to fruition.
Forget about the Spanish language right, let's talk about the English language rights for the next two World Cups. $100 million! Maybe that's not a ton if you compare it to NFL or NBA TV rights, but when you compare that to what SUM/MLS paid four years ago, it's an increase of 150%!!!
Four years ago, no TV bothered to bid on those rights and SUM/MLS was created and bought the rights, then time on ABC and ESPN in order to show the matches. Now, ABC/ESPN had to bid against NBC to get the rights.
Now, I'm no expert on these things, but I'm guessing those who paid SUM/MLS to flog their products and services during the matches (commercial free) got some pretty good return on their investment. Why else would the price of doing business go up so much?
Also, I'm kinda surprised NBC was even involved in the bidding. They've managed to shy away from paying for broadcast rights of sporting events the last few years...why are they suddenly bidding on the largest event on the planet? There has to be some money to be made by broadcasting soccer in this country after all.
All of this, of course, is great news for fans of the beautiful game in the US. My guess is that we'll see a lot more coverage during the World Cup in 2008. They'll need to insure they have plenty of pre and post game shows to fill with ads.
Also, this could have some good trickle down effects for MLS.
"It's important for FIFA and the network to work with MLS," FIFA's director of marketing and television Jerome Valcke said. "Soccer is not just about the World Cup. The national team, the domestic league must have exposure."
Garber said the announcement bodes well for MLS.
"This absolutely raises value of soccer as TV property in the United States," Garber said. "We stand to benefit by the raised value of the sport commercially."
So, does this mean MLS could be selling some broadcast rights for their matches to ABC/ESPN in the not too distant future? Will NBC (or Fox) try and get in on the act?
This is all good news any way you look at it. Top sports leagues didn't get where they are big having to buy air time in order to get their games broadcast. It's all baby steps, but this is a pretty big baby step in my opinion.
So, even with all the negative press the playoff structure MLS is getting right now, maybe the future for soccer in the US is getting brighter after all.