The Commissioner Speaks (well, sort of)

Originally posted on the Seattle Sounders FC Supporters Blog:
From the Continuing to Beat a Dead Horse department.

On: Dead Horse Flog Mode

All Sounders FC fans who were not in the stadium for the DC United match (and many who were) were left feeling dissed, by ESPN. As one who was unable to attend the match, I was livid. I was hoping that a bit of indignation we felt would be voiced by the MLS Commissioner. In the June 19 edition of MLSnet.com’s “The Commissioner Speaks” Mr Garber was, for my taste, a wee bit under spoken in his response.

We had a very exciting and entertaining match on ESPN2 between Seattle Sounders FC and DC United at Qwest Field. Unfortunately, the College World Series game that was the lead-in to the match went into extra innings and delayed the broadcast of the match. We’ve had many inquiries from fans regarding the broadcast delay.
It is ESPN’s company policy that the network stays with live events on their networks through the completion. This policy is part of our agreement with the network. The same situation would occur if an event was following a live MLS event that ran over the allotted time. ESPN was prepared with studio updates, alerts and cut-ins so that our fans could be informed on the game status, but clearly it was very disappointing that our fans couldn’t see live a great demonstration of MLS at its best. If you missed the game on ESPN, the full game is available free of charge on MLSnet.com.

I don’t know if I’m the only one who was a little disappointed in the two public paragraphs on the subject. I don’t know what I expected. After all, the league got paid by the network for the rights to show the match, such as it was. That’s the point of getting televised isn’t it? TV revenue. Perhaps that’s why Mr Garber chose not to rock the boat in public. Didn’t want to bite the hand that feeds him so to speak.
I understand that. I understand agreements. I just hope that for the future, the agreement either states MLS matches will follow programming with a time limit, or that there is an option to move it to one of ESPN’s several channels that do not contain live sports events. If there is no guarantee to show it in it’s entirety, than the local channel needs to retain the right to broadcast it.
Some people would call for ditching ESPN altogether and getting a good deal with FSC, and perhaps being treated with more respect. On the surface, that sounds good, but at the moment it would decrease the potential number of viewers. We the fans, need to make ourselves unable to ignore. WE need to not just make noise when we’re angry, we need to give kudos to all networks who show soccer at any level in any league. We need to patronize the sponsors, and spend some time firing off letters and e-mails to let them know we appreciate them providing the bucks needed to televise the MLS.
In Seattle, it’s hard to believe that any network would be stupid to pass up this league. I guess we’re doing our part here. AS long as we keep seeing so many half full soccer stadiums on the rest of the televised matches, it’s going to be hard for ESPN not to keep us relegated to the minors. Off: Dead Horse Flog Mode