Readers still angry over difficulty seeing
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Readers irate about difficulty of getting Confederations TV.(Wednesday, August 4, 1999) -- SoccerTimes was inundated, first by e-mails asking how to watch the Confederations Cup on television, then by angry reactions to the difficulty of finding someplace to watch the United States participation, even via pay-per-view. A sampling of those letters.
Where is U.S. Soccer marketing?
I don't get it. Why is U.S Soccer not doing more to market their product?
U.S. Soccer is to blame for this marketing blunder that they continue to commit by not exposing the U.S. public to more U.S. National Team play. Why should the television networks be blamed for not picking up these games? These are companies that are in business to make money, and broadcasting many of these tournaments does not make business sense to them when NASCAR and other events are delivering higher TV ratings.
Many are probably wondering why should U.S. Soccer be blamed if, they too, have to be concerned about making money. The answer is that soccer is their product, not the networks, and they have to market it in the most optimum manner so that these networks, and the public, will be convinced to give the sport a chance. In the business world, a company must, many times, initially take losses by partially subsidizing the operation in order to finally get to a point where they make money.
MLS is currently undertaking this process. U.S. Soccer must also take this point of view when it comes to televising soccer. It must, at least, partially subsidize these broadcasts by sharing the costs with networks, in order to bring the game to the masses. I'm sure that U.S. Soccer's money is going to worthwhile functions such as soccer clinics, little leagues, etc. However, nothing captures the imagination of the public than a team playing well on TV.
What do you think would have happened to the development of hockey in the U.S. had the 1980 Olympic Team's games not been televised? This unbelievable run to the gold medal was worth one thousand hockey clinics!!
If U.S. Soccer would have televised the incredible run in the Copa America a few years ago (topped by the upset of Argentina), of their strong performance in the last Gold Cup (highlighted by the upset of Brazil), or the incredible Confederations Cup games (accented by its win over Germany and the strong performance against Brazil), I feel it would have also captured the hearts of many adults and children who were deprived of these strong performances. This is the best way to "turn on" the public toward soccer.
In conclusion, I feel it is imperative for U.S. Soccer to more actively pursue the future broadcast rights to these tournaments and to be prepared to contribute some of the moneys necessary in securing them. This will be money well spent.
Lack of TV coverage ... and Campos
I was absolutely livid over the lack of coverage. I simply don't understand ABC and ESPN's lack of vision. Weeks after the Women's World Cup draws huge TV audiences, we have the men's team guaranteed to battle two of the world's top five teams (Brazil and Germany). How can they not cover this? Not even on ESPN2?
What really makes me mad is that the squad sent down to Mexico was extremely MLS-heavy. Simple branding and marketing screams for ABC/ESPN to pick up these games and promote the hell out of Harkes, McBride, Lewis, Olsen, etc. I know TV contracts and arrangements are very complicated, but to me, this was a huge missed opportunity for ABC/ESPN and the USSF.
By the way, I watched the game at a sports bar in Washington, D.C. called "The Rock." It's a three-story building with pretty large rooms. It was ABSOLUTELY packed -- standing room only. The crowd was 99 percent U.S. and at times broke into a "Ka-Sey, Ka-Sey" chant. I just refuse to believe this game wouldn't have drawn for ABC or ESPN.
On your Jorge Campos item: I understand your point, but I think Campos is a very, very over-rated player. There are other internationals that would make the same kind of impact and wouldn't cost their team games with poor play. He is one of the worst goalies, from a technical standpoint, on the international scene. In fact, given Mexico's ranking, I'd wager he is the worst goalie on a top 30 team. I'd have to look at the FIFA rankings, but that's my humble opinion.
OK. Maybe I'm just bitter over the Sunday loss. (to Mexico)
Lack of TV is a shame
Itís a shame that a tournament of the Confederations Cup caliber as well as the South America Copa are not being televised while coverage of garbage "sports" like pool and bowling goes on prime time at ESPN.
Radio coverage on Internet?
You mentioned something that has been bothering me. I was one of those getting second-hand 10-minute updates of the Confederations Cup because the games are not available in my area (Raleigh-Durham, N.C.). I understand the expense and production problems with television.
Asking U.S. Soccer to buy TV rights to all foreign events featuring the U.S. would be foolhardy. But what about radio? More specifically, what about Internet radio? At the very least, U.S. Soccer should hire two announcers to broadcast every international game. If they are lucky, some stations or networks may pay to pick up the feed (ESPN Radio, anyone?). At the very least the feed should be available on the Internet.
Every NHL game will be available this season in duplicate. You can choose which team's feed you want to hear. Most Major League Baseball (and many minor league) games are available. Several English Premier League teams have also taken the plunge. I think it is time for U.S. Soccer to step up. The cost/benefit of providing a radio feed for every international game, especially the ones not available on TV, is enormous.
I understand that not all soccer fans in the U.S. are on the Web (it only seems that way), but I think they'd be amazed at how many people click-in to listen to the games. Even a trial basis would be a start. It would be obvious, by tracking click-throughs, just how large the audience is.
Woodstock '99 over Confederations Cup?
I loved Jerry Langdonís articles at Socertimes.com. You really wrote almost exactly how I felt about the whole Confederations Cup.
My cable company was going to pick it up, but then came along Woodstock '99, and it decided not to. I was stuck in a chat room asking people from countries that weren't even in the tournament what the score was. Some were from Italy, Holland, Australia, and there was one from Argentina. My friend in New York saw the games. though, I think at a sports bar, and he kinda highlighted it for me. Still not as good as seeing it yourself. I think the U.S. could have probably beaten Mexico if they had more rest. The scheduling from FIFA was horrible.
Anyways, great article.
Campos not needed
I agree with you about the TV coverage. I wonder how much revenue DishTV generated, not much I would guess. I attempted to watch all four matches, but was unsuccessful. Only two people I know have DishTV, and the sports bar that had it, couldn't carry it because it was pay per view.
On Campos, the MLS doesn't need him. I don't think he draws any non-Mexican fans into the stands, and we need to make MLS an American league, not a Mexican-American league. Besides, one thing the U.S. is blessed with, is many outstanding goalkeepers.
I enjoy Jerry Langdonís columns.
A huge game missed
Why isn't the Confederations Cup game of the U.S. vs. Mexico being televised? This is a huge game for the U.S., on a Sunday no less, with interested viewers on both sides throughout the united states. I can follow it on your SoccerTimes at least.
Pay-per-view is the pits
Why is it totally impossible to find the Confederations Cup on television? This pay-per-view crap isn't cutting it at all (especially when you live in an area that is less than soccer friendly and has decided not to air the pay-per-view matches.) It is, after all, the only tournament of any importance for the U.S. this year.
We can see >worthless friendlies to no end but not any real matches. This lack of coverage is ridiculous and just makes one ask him\herself what kind of soccer backwater are we trying to create in this country?
To ABC and ESPN: What is your problem? Get a crew to cover important matches in the future. If your are serious about covering American soccer, maybe you should consider airing matches that actually mean something.