Soccer on TV: How It’s Done and How Many Watch*

* OK, one game.  I’ll get to that below…no complaining; you see how I ordered these things in the title.

USSoccerplayers.com ran a nifty interview with a guy named Michael Cohen.  He’s the…let’s see…executive producer for Major League Soccer (MLS) and Soccer United Marketing (SUM) – basically, he coordinates what gets on the air soccer-wise.  Or something very much like that.

It’s an interesting piece, not least because it’s covers things that aren’t often noticed, but two items most interested me in that interview.  In no particular order…and these are both Cohen’s answers to questions:

“In a perfect situation, we’d have flexibility in our schedule.  Maybe that will come down the road when we have all the stadiums under our control.  Then, if we have something scheduled in September or October, then we can make that switch.”

Whew.  Thank god they’re thinking about that. Wasn’t always sure.  Hopefully, we get “down the road” fast; there’s nothing worse than watching two teams that have made the playoffs on the final weekend of the regular season when you know there’s another, hotter game being played.  Next:

“In Fox’s pre-game shows, which we’re thrilled with, there will be an increase of locker room shots and pre-game interviews.  The studio show they did was a tremendous asset to the league.  It gave fans the ability to go inside the game.  Building on that success is something Fox is able to do.”

Sure, the only thing that looks lower budget than Fox’s production values is the on-air talent.  They can be corny, they miss their cues, etc. etc.  But Fox really went out of their way to make events of MLS games and that’s awesome.  ESPN, on the other hand, too often looks like they can’t wait to get back to the World’s Strongest Man.  As for Fox, the quality will come…maybe.

– There’s something powerfully encouraging tucked toward the bottom of the U.S. v. Mexico wrap run in the San Diego Union Tribune.  Read and feel peace:

In the lucrative 18-34 age demographic, the telecast by Spanish-language Univision outdrew every network – ABC, NBC, CBS – except Fox, which had ‘American Idol’ at the same time in Central and Eastern time zones. In Houston, Univision’s numbers even topped ‘Idol.’

[SNIP]

“Even so, the ESPN2 and Univision telecasts in San Diego combined for a 4.2 Nielsen rating and 7 share.”

Sure, you could say it’s just Mexicans tuning in to watch.  But demand is demand.  So long as I get to watch, I don’t care who’s talking.  And, yeah, San Diego isn’t like everywhere else.  Still, good numbers.

BONUS MATERIAL: I often think about dying well.  More specifically, I hope if I die unjustly, or even horribly, that I face the time before with composure, or even bravado.  Drawing from Simon Schama’s Citizens again, a prostitute named Egle went through trial and to the guillotine around the same time as Marie-Antoinette (who was, incidentally, treated horribly; worth the read).  At one point, the revolutionary authorities considered executing Egle and another prostitute along with Marie-Antoinette on the thinking that “the spectacle of three whores sharing the same tumbril would provide an eloquent symbolic statement.”  (See?  They hated Marie-Antoinette.)  While the trials and execution wound up being separate events, the effort was still made to tie Egle to the condemned queen in some unstated conspiracy – even one with sexual undertones.  Egle had a wonderful response to the charge:

“That’s just fine and, ma foi you certainly show some wit, but me, accomplice of the person you call widow Capet and who was very much the Queen, me who earned my living on street corners and would never have made the humblest maid in her kitchen; that’s really worthy of a bunch of crooks and imbeclies like you.”
– Simon Schama, Citizens, p. 795

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One Response

  1. Ah, if only our own modern day whores (cough, ahem, Alexi Lalas, cough!) were capable of such honest observation. Instead we settle for “Let them eat Becks!”*

    Ummm.

    That didn’t quite come out right, now did it? Though, if he is indeed the savior of soccer in the States . . . ?

    * (And yes, I am aware that Marie-Antoinette probably wasn’t the one who dropped that particular bon mot that I’m riffing upon.)

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