What They're Saying: Larry Berg

“It will come down to the media deals. I think some of our sponsorships are fantastic, but if we can get some of the media deals to catch up in terms of magnitude, I think we’ll be a league, I think we’re already a league of choice to a certain extent, but whether we can be a top-five league or a top-three league will really at the end of the day come down to money and our ability to compete for players.”

-- LAFC owner Larry Berg, speaking at MLS Media Day Wednesday in New York, on what it will take for MLS to become a "league of choice" for players around the world. He said that MLS will surpass MLB and the NHL to become the No. 3 pro sports league in the United States in 10 years and had "tremendous confidence" that his third-year club will be in 25 years "the best team in the best league in the world." Poor TV ratings and low fan interest of legacy teams in many major markets relative to new teams like LAFC are obstacles for MLS, whose current media rights deal with ESPN, Fox and Univision expires after the 2022 season. MLS commissioner Don Garber noted that MLS is "entirely upside down compared to all the other leagues, in that media, as it relates to our revenues, is frankly the smallest piece of the puzzle."
6 comments about "What They're Saying: Larry Berg".
  1. Wallace Wade, February 27, 2020 at 10:42 a.m.

    Mr. Berg has a lot to learn about MLS, US Soccer and Mr. Garber

  2. :: SilverRey :: replied, February 27, 2020 at 12:44 p.m.

    TV deals are what made EPL into what it is today. AND it is what is keeping them at the top of the pile. MLS absolutely needs to parlay the '26 WC into a massive tv deal for '22. They need to leverage that as much as they can to be able to really capitalize on the next deal - which will be fueled by the '26 WC even more-so.
    I think Berg's 10 year assessment is still off, but this next decade will be very important to the growth of MLS.

  3. :: SilverRey ::, February 27, 2020 at 12:45 p.m.


  4. Ben Myers, February 27, 2020 at 2:47 p.m.

    Neither MLS not USSF understand the make-or-break importance of the sports media, judging by their inactioon.  For a few years now, I have advocated that both organizations need to make concerted efforts to seed both print and over-the-air media with journalists, reporters and media personalities who really and truly know the game of soccer.  Today, we have a lot of graybeards pontificating about a game they hardly know.  Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe is the writer in my area who comes to mind.  It goes without saying, too, that the less visible people who run sports media generally know squat about the game, so the emphasis in all sports media continues to be the American big three of football, baseball and basketball.   Soccer needs to make it a big four.

    The most progress made in soccer journalism over the years is the regular broadcasting of important soccer matches by Fox Sports and NBC Sports.  The regular columns by Rory Smith in the New York Times also up the ante in sports journalism.  For these, we in the soccer community need to be most grateful.  

  5. Bob Ashpole, February 27, 2020 at 3:34 p.m.

    I am not all that concerned about the entertainment industry that is professional sports. What I care about is the sport itself and the vast overwheming portion of the sport is amateur players who play for the love of the sport. Even the pros were at one time amateurs in love with the sport. I suspect that the only change is that now they are pros in love with the sport.

    Perhaps it is naive, but I think that if the owners looked at their product as a sport rather than a circus for the masses, they would improve the international and domestic standing of the league.

    Producing a spectacal only draws in a certain type of fan. They are loyal, but don't care about the sport. Like "professional wrestling". If they want to win over soccer fans, they need to provide a better level of play. Parity only get you so far. You can see parity in high school soccer, but it doesn't interest me.

    So is it to be a circus or soccer?   

  6. R2 Dad replied, March 3, 2020 at 12:37 a.m.

    Wow, really relevant point that escapes both media folks and soccer honchos. But judging from the TV coverage (as many have complained about on these pages) the answer right now is Circus. The people who aren't involved in the playing of the game only care about the business end, the theater, the growth. There is improvement. The B/R coverage with Stu/Tim/Kate/Steve Nash isn't annoying, and I enjoy Phil Bonney & Derek Rae (but somehow Alexi L continues to witter unabated). But until soccer gets a higher profile at the amateur level with roots up through professional clubs, there is more work to be done and more soccer to be infused into our culture. We can't expect MLS and USSF to care about our interests and needs. Likewise, they cannot be surprised when families who grow up in the game look internationally to fill the gaps our system refuses to fill.

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