Commentary

MLS's national TV ad sales jump, Gus Johnson experiment reaction

By Paul Kennedy

With its television deals with ESPN (eight-year agreement) and NBC (three-year agreement) set to expire after the 2014 season, Major League Soccer enters a critical period on the television front.

Poor national television ratings have been the league's Achilles heel, as evidenced by the low ratings for its return to network television -- MLS's Portland-Seattle debut game on NBC in September 2012 was the lowest-rated sports program of the weekend with a 0.4 -- but MLS did get some good news in the form of a bump in national television ad sales in the 2012 regular season: an increase of 121 percent from $3.4 million to $7.5 million.

The figures were published by Nielsen in its "State of the Media: 2012 Year in Sports" report.

National television ad sales had fallen from from $4.3 million in 2010 to $3.4 million in 2011. MLS moved to NBC and NBC Sports Network after its agreement with Fox Soccer expired after the 2011 season.

-- Other MLS findings of note in the Nielsen report: Asian and African-American viewers of MLS Cup increased 267 percent and 130 percent, respectively, over the last three years.

GUS JOHNSON EXPERIMENT. Gus Johnson's debut on Fox Soccer with his play-by-play of the Real Madrid-Manchester United game dominated the attention of soccer tweeters on Wednesday afternoon. Reaction was generally positive ...

-- Richard Deitsch: "Casual fans and Gus lovers are pumped. Diehard soccer fans not as much. I'd say good news for Fox Sports for Game One." @richarddeitsch

-- Roger Bennett: "And on Gus Johnson front: Superior to Dennis Miller and Rush Limbaugh combined. Gent has 5 years to get into gameshape. He will be golden" ‏@rogbennett

-- Matthew Doyle‏: "I'm enjoying Gus Johnson. Quite a bit, actually." @MLS_Analyst

-- Jeff Bradley: "In all seriousness, Gus was fine. Did not offend. Only criticism, was yapping about nothing when Ronaldo equalized. Teachable moment." ‏@JerseyJBradley

-- Charles Boehm: "Has he been anointed already? I thought that was twitter's job! RT @sgevans: @cboehm soccer's American voice." ‏@cboehm

My take? I'm still a Jim Nantz man.

One comment: The Johnson hype did overshadow the continuing strong work by the Fox studio crew: Rob Stone, Eric Wynalda and the improving Brian McBride. (But what was Mario Melchiot doing in the studio?)
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3 comments about "MLS's national TV ad sales jump, Gus Johnson experiment reaction".
  1. Peter Skouras, February 14, 2013 at 7:36 a.m.

    Gus Johnson? He's got my vote!

  2. Peter Skouras, February 14, 2013 at 7:46 a.m.

    Gus Johnson? He's got my vote!

  3. Tom Symonds, February 14, 2013 at 9:38 a.m.

    We have two of the best clubs in world playing each other; two of the best managers in the world competing against each other; so naturally we would have Sky's and arguably the world's best announcer (Martin Tyler) doing the game...no!...we get a Fox trialist. I'm not going to nitpick GJ's performance (there was plenty to comment on, but for a newbie he was passable in play-by-play...less is better and hopefully we won't hear him get lost in himself) but Fox itself was abysmal. Fox Soccer - the same network bringing Shakhtar-Dortmund delayed immediately after Real-ManU...and what do Fox & Gus Johnson do? - they tell us the scores of the second match. This is a habit they've fallen into with EPL this year, too. Congrats, Fox...I'm sure your sponsors will appreciate that they lost this viewer for that two hour block. Really 'bush league' from Fox and GJ.

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