Digitally Activated: Sports Centered

A Look at Online Sports Activations

A Stateside Action Plan for Liverpool

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The words "Liverpool Football Club" are in the center of a pennant, with flames either side. The words "You'll Never Walk Alone" adorn the top of the emblem in a green design, "EST 1892" is at the bottom.

New England Sports Ventures can generate substantial revenue from Liverpool in the United States by: 

1) hosting an annual or biennial American tour 

2) syndicating Liverpool matches to regional sports networks (RSN)

The American public has demonstrated a substantial interest in international soccer matches.  This past summer alone, Manchester United averaged 55,790 for three matches  in the US, Real Madrid averaged 68,236 in two matches and the Barclay’s New York Challenge averaged 19,042 over three match dates; total attendance for these 8 matches, 360,968.  To put this number into perspective, the Oakland Raiders drew 354,276 for their eight home games in 2009.

It could be argued that these attendance numbers were the manifestation of interest from this year’s World Cup, and are not sustainable in long-term; however, the CAA run World Football Challenge of 2009 drew 336,813 fans over six matches, and two FC Barcelona matches drew 159,967.  The combined attendance of 496,780 for these two tours was more than six NFL clubs in 2009.  The substantial gate receipts generated from these international friendlies has been adversely affected by fees imposed by the United States Soccer Federation. 

Currently, the USSF taxes match promoters 5.25-15% for matches held on US soil featuring international teams.  If we assume that a match selling 60,000 tickets generates somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.7 million in gross ticket sales (based on an average ticket price of $45), the USSF’s tax can serve as a significant deterrent to those considering the feasibility of promoting international matches.  The probable repeal of USSF’s sanctioning fee will increase the viability of these tournaments.  

Moreover, MLB stadiums could be the preferred venues for a Liverpool tour. Matches delivered to municipally owned stadiums  could serve to enhance the political leverage of New England Sports Ventures with its fellow owners.   Furthermore, market selection could be a driving force to forge partnerships with team owned RSNs.

In last week’s SportsBusiness Journal, Ted Leonsis made the argument that more and more clubs will be looking to launch their own RSN.  He pointed out that in the coming years broadband and mobile distribution rights will become increasingly important.  Thus, the question arises, how will these networks fill the vast amount of programming requirements for a multiple platform presence?  The YES Network may have given an indication where RSNs will look to acquire programming.

The YES Network recently agreed to terms with Arsenal to broadcast their EPL, FA Cup and UEFA Cup matches in HD.  John Filippelli, President, production and programming for the YES Network had this to say about the agreement:

“This Arsenal package provides additional depth to our already diverse, Emmy Award-winning lineup. It not only makes our programming more attractive to those living in our traditional regional viewing area, but it also enhances the value of our YES national feed available throughout the country.  Those tuning in to our YES national feed will benefit from these Arsenal programs airing in HD throughout our schedule, including when our Yankees and Nets game telecasts are blacked out.”

New England Sports Ventures would first utilize Liverpool rights to increase its subscription fees with New England based MSO’s, and then build the business case for Liverpool being a valuable asset for RSNs outside of the Northeast.

New England Sports Ventures has demonstrated innovation and efficiency in every endeavor it has embarked upon; I eagerly await their stateside plans for Liverpool.

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Written by Peter Amador

October 20, 2010 at 9:43 PM

Posted in EPL, TV Rights

Tagged with , , , ,

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