By Paul Kennedy
How did MLS's Rivalry Week go over on national television, where all nine games were aired in one form or another?
The good news: the Portland-Seattle game averaged 209,000 viewers on NBC Sports Network (h/t @Ourand_SBJ). To put it in perspective, none of last year's last year's final 11 MLS broadcasts on NBCSN drew even half that number of viewers. And only five of last year's 40 regular-season games on NBCSN drew as many viewers. (Four were during the summer when MLS broadcasts got a huge bump in viewers because of the lead-in from NBCSN's Olympic coverage.)
The bad news: an average of only 108,000 viewers tuned in Sunday afternoon for the FC Dallas-Houston game on ESPN2. That's lower than any of the 10 MLS regular-season games that aired on ESPN2 last year.
The overnight rating for the New York-D.C. United game on NBC was a 0.7. (The New York NBC affiliate aired the local St. Patrick's Day Parade.)
BROKEN OR NOT BROKEN? Just what kind of shape was Real Salt Lake in when Dell Loy Hansen looked into buying into the team in 2009? "What I realized quickly was the team was in some desperate financial straits," he tells the Salt Lake Tribune's Aaron Falk.
RSL founder Dave Checketts disputes how dire the situation was. He admits he and his partners had maxed themselves out by spending $72 million on the team, but says they kept the team afloat -- and built Rio Tinto Stadium -- during the greatest economic crisis of our time -- and in face of the collapse of investment partner Lehman Brothers.
Hansen bought 49 percent of Checketts' SCP Worldwide sports properties in the fall 2009. That interest increased to 62 percent by last fall when a clause in their partnership agreement allowed one partner to seek to buy out the other.
They disagree on what happened next: Checketts said his bid of $33 million was accepted and he deposited the money to buy out Hansen but then had second thoughts and sold out. Hansen, now the sole owner, said Checketts' offer was rejected by the league.
"One thing that’s black and white," Hansen told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I will never make money running this."
Hansen, who said he'd plow any profits back into the team, said RSL, which was bringing in $2.8 million in sponsorships a year when he bought into the team four years ago, will generate $8.5 million in sponsorship revenue in 2013.
BEIN SPORTS-VERIZON DEAL. BeIN SPORT will air on the Verizon FiOS TV system with over 4.7 million video customers nationwide. Verizon has added both beIN SPORT HD and beIN SPORT en Espanol HD to its FiOS TV lineup.
WORTH READING. Want a better understanding of what MLS is up against in Queens, where it is pushing for the construction of a new soccer stadium where it hopes to house its 20th club? Lisa W. Foderaro of the New York Times examines how plans to expand the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park have met with opposition at public hearings held by local community boards.
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