Monday, January 19, 2009

1/19/09: ESPN Changing Up MLS Format, Expect Teams With Exciting Atmospheres To Get More ESPN 2 Games Next Year

ESPN 2 and MLS would be better off to include more games with the atmosphere on the left and none or as little as possible home games(without making their perspective ownerships extremely cranky) for FC Dallas, New England, Chivas, Colorado, New York, etc. until they improve their home atmosphere.

According to the Sports Business Journal, ESPN is booting MLS from it's Thursday Night Primetime slot and instead is showing a weekly match which will occur on Thursdays (10 times), Saturdays (eight times), Wednesdays (six times) and Fridays (three times).

ESPN plans to program matches after college football, NIT basketball, the College World Series, motorsports and U.S. Open tennis. Promotion and marketing will be consistent with what has been provided in the past.

“(The change) works well for all parties,” said MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche. “It provides better matchups for ESPN and provides flexibility for our clubs to put these games on nights that have more people in attendance.”

My thoughts: If I was ESPN and MLS my game for the second week would be Toronto vs. Columbus. TFC is guarenteed to have more then 1,000 away supporters in attendance, the Nordecke kept growing in 2008 and peaked at the end of the season with one of the most impressive atmosphere's against Chicago(below), and it should be an easy sale for home support to come out to watch the champions in the home opener. It's not the marketing struggle that it was the previous three seasons for the Crew FO with a below average squad.

And, there is definite festering animosity between the two clubs. I think ESPN who had Columbus vs. TFC slated last year but had to change it, would be smart to make sure Columbus vs. TFC was on their schedule this year. It will definitely be one of the best and most authentic atmosphere's with the Nordecke being at it's strongest(compared to when TFC came in 2008 when the Nordecke was in it's infancy) and the expected Toronto support. ESPN and MLS are hopeless if that isn't on their schedule for March 28th.

Anyways, I expect more of Columbus, Toronto, Chicago, DC, Houston, Seattle, and LA. Less of New York, Colorado, New England, FC Dallas, and Real Salt Lake. New stadiums are great but without an atmosphere, they don't look so hot on primetime.


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