NBC cites improved ratings for MLS coverage

By Ridge Mahoney and Paul Kennedy

A menu of 41 games televised on NBC and NBC Sports Network during the 2012 MLS season showed growth in several demographic segments, including male viewers.

The numbers are hardly sensational yet the network is touting them as significantly better than those on Fox Soccer Channel, which had signed a one-year deal for the 2011 season but didn't match NBC's bid of approximately $10 million per season for a three-year deal that runs through 2014.

Average viewership increased by 122 percent overall compared to 2011 telecasts on FSC (151,000 to 68,000), and in males 18-34 (63 percent) and men 18-49 (50 percent).

Cumulative audience for the 41 games totaled more than 13.2 million viewers, nearly five times the audience (2.7 million) for Fox Soccer Channel games in 2011.

DELL'APA AT BEIN SPORT DIGITAL. Frank Dell'Apa, who covered soccer for 23 years a sportswriter at the Boston Globe, has left the paper to join beIN SPORT Digital Media as managing editor of its website, which will be integrated with television production at its Medley, Fla., headquarters and, eventually, with the European arm of beIN SPORT in Paris.

ROMA FANS WELCOME. Want to meet Michael Bradley over the holidays? His Italian club, Roma, will treat fans to open training sessions at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Dec. 30-Jan. 1. The club is offering travel packages and VIP packages for fans. It's all part of the deal it signed with the Florida sports complex to become its official winter training home.

VIDEO PICK. The Chevin's hit song, "Champion," anchors the opening sequence for ESPN’s presentation of the 2012 MLS Cup playoffs. The music video of The Chevin performed their hit song was produced at the Full Sail University’s Sports Lab, where 30 students helped out on the production.

(Click here to view the video.)
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