Walking through the Giants Stadium parking lot before Saturday's Red Bulls-Galaxy match, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of Red Bulls regalia worn by the tailgating fans. While less than half the crowd had their Red Bulls jerseys and shirts on, definitely more than a quarter did. Given the much-reported, pre-Beckham home attendance mark (11K+ per game), I wondered where all these Red Bull-clad fans were each week, because they certainly weren't at Giants Stadium, cheering on the team. Were they watching on TV?
Maybe not. Today's NY Times has a story by sports business/media columnist Richard Sandomir on the varied channel line-up that will get Beckham games (ESPN, FSC, Telefutura, HDNet, local cable stations, etc.) this season. The piece also notes that Red Bulls games on MSG and FSNY, the New York local cable sports stations, draw an average of...1,031 households.
That's mind-bogglingly low, even considering folks watching matches in bars (not measured) , and those watching over the internet. One thousand households. The story notes that ratings are up 40% over last year's 736-HH average. I know it's been reported in the past that the Metros/Red Bulls regularly outdraw the Islanders and Devils on TV, but with numbers that low, one wonders just how much more invisible the club can get.
Perhaps Saturday orgasmically-good win over LA will kick-start the ratings and attendance pumps, but for RBNY to make a dent in the local sports scene, the marketing dollars have to start flowing, and quickly.