The MLS international television negotiator has been very busy this season. After closing on a deal to broadcast matches in England earlier in the year, MLS has now reached an agreement to broadcast matches in Southeast Asia and Australia. According to the MLS website, the deal will run from 2015-18 and will include two matches per week. The deal is massive for both MLS and Crew SC for a number of reasons.
First is the additional exposure. This seems logical because games shown in other countries would attract more people to watch, but consider why the English Premier League has the most revenue of any soccer league in the world.
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The Premier League has crazy television deals, not just in the UK, but also in other parts of the world. A 2013 article in the English paper The Times said the Premier League has a television audience of 4.7 billion worldwide, or well over half of the world’s population.
The television deal has led to the huge revenues enjoyed by being a member of the Premier League. The MLS has to begin somewhere and this market is the perfect starting point. As the league continues to grow and more people around the world are watching the matches the television rights could explode just like the Premier League.
The Columbus Crew SC might only rarely be selected for these international matches because of not having “star players”, but a rising tide lifts all boats. Even the teams that finish in the lower half of the Premier League table get massive amounts of money and with the MLS revenue sharing the same could be true for Crew SC.
The second fact might be the most exciting and that is attracting talent. With this broadcast deal eyes of potential players will see what MLS can offer. The stadiums with passionate support and the attraction of an American lifestyle could bring in more talent.
In the short history of MLS, there have been very few players from that part of the world despite having talent to offer. A savvy team could corner the market and bring in star quality players that don’t cost nearly as much as the older Europeans MLS normally focuses on.
Columbus Crew SC are the exact type of team that should be focusing on this new market. As a small market team, they need to exploit every advantage to stay up with the competition. Beginning to build relationships with clubs in Southeast Asia could lead to a competitive advantage down the road.