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Soccer Business


January 28, 2013
Small market RSL get short end of TV exposure

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Major League Soccer may be a single entity, sharing most things equally, but that certainly does not apply to appearances on television. Of the league's 87 regular season matches that will air on national television, Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew each appear only three times.

That's compared to New York (19 appearances), Los Angeles (17) and Chicago (16). But market size does not seem to be the only thing driving the scheduling. Otherwise, how can the appearance of Sporting Kansas City 13 times be accounted for. The difference in the size of the markets is miniscule. Salt Lake, the smallest market in the league, has 917,370 homes. Columbus has 930,460, while Kansas City has 931,320 homes.

The Salt Lake market also is one of the best in terms of MLS viewership. RSL local TV ratings rank second in MLS, trailing only Seattle, averaging nearly a 2.5 on the local ABC affiliate (10 games), and 1.5 on the CW affiliate (21 games).

For the MLS on NBC package last year (41 games), the Salt Lake market was 4th-best in the US, behind San Diego, Seattle and Portland. RSL also says that approximately 10% of its nearly $7 million in sponsor revenue can be tied to the team's local TV inventory.

Soccer losing popularity?
If you believe the latest Harris Poll on the subject, professional soccer is less popular in the United States now than it was 20 years ago.

According to results of a survey of 2,176 adults conducted online between December 12 and 18, 2012, soccer is the favorite sport of just 2% of the respondents, as opposed to the 3% who responded to that same question in 1984. Soccer was at 4% in 2010, a World Cup year, and at 1% in 2011.

Given the growth of the game at every level, it's hard to believe the veracity of these numbers. For the record, pro football finished with 34% and baseball with 16%.

New digs for Roma
The U.S.-based ownership of AS Roma plans to build a new stadium in Rome in time for the team's 2016-2017 season. The announcement was made during the club's first annual Winter Training at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

The location for the new stadium will be Tor di Valle, in the southwest part of the city. Roma's new stadium will offer 55,000 to 60,000 Roma fans an intimate experience to see the Giallorossi in a state-of-the-art venue worthy of the three-time Serie A champions with nine Coppa Italia titles and two Supercoppa Italiana titles.

The new stadium will be the dedicated home for the storied Italian club. The team has shared Stadio Olimpico with city rivals Lazio since 1960.

The construction of a new stadium is the latest global brand-enhancing and revenue-generating move that AS Roma President Jim Pallotta has made since acquiring the team in December 2011.

Sponsor deals
San Diego Boca FC (NPSL) has signed two new sponsor deals. Solar Rain Water has become the team's official water sponsor and Handyman On Demand has become the Official Handyman/Light Construction Sponsor for the team.

The Richmond Kickers have renewed a multiyear partnership with adidas. adidas will outfit the entire Kickers player development program, from recreational to the professional team.
Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer and Nike, Inc. have entered into a new, four-year partnership that will provide exclusive apparel and equipment coverage for all of the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer programs.

Broadcast extension
The Houston Dynamo and Spanish-language radio partner Liberman Broadcasting have agreed to a multiyear broadcast partnership extension.

Liberman Broadcasting, which has broadcast Dynamo games since 2006, will air all Dynamo regular season and playoff games, with most games broadcast on KEYH 850 AM (La Ranchera), and select games airing on KNTE 101.7 FM (Baila). 850 AM will continue its weekly Dynamo radio show, La Hora del Dynamo, on Mondays from 6-7 p.m.

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