Thursday, November 03, 2005

Das Rights, Baby!

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the news that the Mouse House networks have won the English-language US television rights for the eight-year World Cup cycle between the 2007 Women’s championship and the 2014 Men’s World Cup. Glad to see that the “mini World Cup” Confederation Cups are included. Hope that means that the Disney nets will actually televise those matches instead of driving soccer fans to hunt them down to watch in spanish on Telefutura. As for MLS rights past '06, the announcement gave quite a clue:

"Garber said MLS anticipates securing rights fees."
Now that’s news. Keep in mind that ESPN recently offered to go halfsies with the NHL on their latest deal, after men playing poker attracted more viewers than hockey during the NHL lockout. Since MLS rights remain visible only under a microscope, I wonder what Garber thinks he can get, half-off entrée coupons at the ESPN Zone in Anaheim? Perhaps the new expansion club will have impact coercing a rights fee from TV networks. A team in a major market like Houston will go a long way in terms of expanding MLS’ national footprint, and potential ratings, especially since the Toronto club won’t add any US-based television homes. We'll know more about that next weekend at MLS Cup, when the league is supposed to formally announce Toronto & (active) club #14. Stay tuned, indeed.

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