This was supposed to be Freedom Kicks, but I’ve got something else on my mind today. Major League Soccer positions itself as one of the major professional sports in the United States, and by many metrics, they are! Tens of thousands of people go to games, the TV and streaming numbers are improving, and soccer in the United States is more popular than it has ever been.
But the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL all do something that MLS does not: they have league-wide production of preseason games. The MLS season starts back up in less than two weeks, and except for the Concacaf Champions League there’s been next to no hype about the upcoming season. All of the other leagues capitalize on their most passionate fans’ interest by airing preseason content, letting the fans become buzz marketers on their very own.
Some MLS teams do a lot of preseason content, and a lot of MLS teams do next to nothing. Like I’ve said on Filibuster, I don’t need the quality to be good. I will watch a preseason game with construction equipment in the background and the wind obliterating and sound. I’ve paid $14 for a terrible stream from Bradenton. The passion is there, not just from me, but from fans who just want to watch some MLS.
If the League has concerns, then it should mandate minimum values. It should make sure that whatever product is out there meets what they desire. If the venues don’t have the ability to stream, then don’t use those venues as preseason options anymore. As it is, I have to check my calendar to remember that MLS is Back soon, instead of tracking it for the past month like I was able to do 8 years ago.
Maybe this gets fixed next year when the League does a new broadcast contract and centralizes everything. If they’re not thinking about preseason content, they should be. Teams that didn’t make the playoffs have been sitting around, twiddling their thumbs since October. This winter, it will go straight from MLS Cup, to the World Cup, and MLS preseason would be the next step to keep everyone interested.
Let’s see it happen.