Thursday, May 5, 2011

Soccer Marketing 101 - Fox Soccer to Debut "Soccer Night in America"

Seemingly out of the blue and partway through the 2011 Major League Soccer season, Fox Soccer (Channel?) announced their prime time matches would, from this moment forward, be known as "Soccer Night in America".

The first "SNiA" will be this Friday as Portland Timbers host Philadelphia Union at 9pm (CT).

Getting beyond the fact that FS(C?) pretty much STOLE our nickname MLS matches during the week (we've been Tweeting and Facebooking that out for the last two years.. I'm sure they got it from us) we pleased as punch that the network is making our domestic league a priority.

The channel that's made its name broadcasting English Premier League, Serie A, and this year, Champions League matches, has treated the American league like a red-headed stepchild in its lineup.

Granted they've hired much higher profile names to call their games, but Fox Soccer's coverage of MLS has often lacked the "polish" of other broadcasts. No pre-game or post-game shows, few stats, on-screen graphics, and fewer camera angles to compliment the coverage they did provide.

Finally, though, it looks we can give credit where credit is due. Fox is looking to make a serious push in covering MLS where ESPN has tried and failed. By committing the league to a specific night (Fridays with some Saturdays sprinkled in) with specific branding ("Soccer Night in America") they're giving the league a spotlight for soccer fans to gravitate too.

Friday nights are tough, but for die hard domestic fans it creates consistency, something the league broadcast coverage has sorely lacked. ESPN used to dedicate Thursday to MLS, but the 2010 season saw that formula fly out the window and their broadcasts bounce in and out of a weekday slot all season (with some weeks not seeing an ESPN televised MLS game at all).

American soccer fans have long complained that one of the nation's largest platforms for reaching the greater soccer fan base in the U.S. has punted on their MLS coverage, but now it appears Fox Soccer wants to get serious about it. From what little we've seen so far the areas of great failure will hopefully become Fox's great successes.

Fox Soccer can do little about the on-field product that the league puts out on a weekly basis, but from here on out they can certainly add a degree of professionalism and presentation to help build the domestic game.

In a perfect world, this would be the new intro for "Soccer Night in America":

We suppose this one isn't half bad:

*** We added a question mark after several mentions of "Fox Soccer Channel" or "FSC" because it seems as though the network is increasingly referring to itself as solely "Fox Soccer" instead. Stay tuned.

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Babieca said...

They need to get Jenna Maroney to do the opening number:

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