WUSA confronts tough questions about its future

Discussion in 'NWSL' started by *Crazy_Chastain*, Aug 29, 2002.

  1. Adam Zebrowski

    Adam Zebrowski New Member

    May 28, 1999
    My view is the 2nd year of WUSA, the number of loyal WUSA fans were established.

    I'll think you find if you went to ONE WUSA match, you probably went to two or more.

    And this is the basis for loyalty.

    Year one, I think there were more one time curiousity goers.

    The key is ensuring the loyal base remains loyal, which I think it will, then gradually increasing that base.

    If you want to marry it to the national team, I think you need to address how foreign allocations fit into that marketing scheme, do they get alienated if this becomes a USA league, with the emphasis on national team success.

    There needs to be a general cooperation amongst all the soccer entities, from WUSA to USSF to MLS.

    One thing, WHY HAVE MLS versus WUSA on TV competing with one another, it will fragment each others ratings?

    I think MLS and WUSA agreeing on not competing on TV is a start.

    Where else do we go? I'm NOT sure, but if you're fighting with one another, then everyone loses.
     
  2. FanOfFutbol

    FanOfFutbol Member+

    May 4, 2002
    One of the HUGE problems is the stupid idea of playing Saturday afternoons.

    Part of the fan base for the WUSA, and the MLS for that matter, is the youth soccer players and their parents. Families of youth players often spend all afternoons in the fall and spring at soccer games and they want the summer afternoons to do other things.

    They do NOT want to sit home and watch TV at this time and the WUSA is simply not important enough for them to go through the pain of programming the VCR.

    Of the 30 or so families of the kids I deal with in soccer that I met with earlier this week I asked, kind of off hand, how many watched the WUSA final, only 6 families watched the game!

    These are VERY detected soccer families with kids on teams from U11-U17, mostly girls.

    After I heard this I decided to do an informal, very unscientific, survey.

    Five families did not have PAX. None of them expressed a desire to have seen the final as they were all doing other things at the time.

    Ten families did not know the WUSA final was on. Six of these follow the MLS but they have only seen the WUSA two or three time due to the lack of the games being available even though televised.

    Six said they would have watched but the time of the game was a conflict with other things the kids or family was doing.

    Three, the kids anyway, asked me to make them a tape so they could see the game. The reason they did not watch is they "forgot" about the game.

    Then there were the six that did watch of which only ONE could name five players that played in the game. (One even forgot Mia) ;) And none knew who scored the winning goal.

    The WUSA MUST expand its visibility and playing the showcase game each week in a Saturday afternoon time slot is guaranteed to fail to do that UNLESS there are other games available nation wide for people to see.

    I bet the WUSA could get TV contracts that were "Rights of first refusal" contracts and then market the games that were not picked up around, possibly tape delayed, to other networks and sports channels and get more of the games to more viewers.

    Shoot, I would not be surprised if Fox Sports World would be willing to air many of the games on a tape delay.

    In order to build a fan base the WUSA must get itself before as many potential fans as possible and showing only one game a week at a bad time slot on a channel that most people never watch, so never see the adds, and going directly against a game that is the same sport will NOT do it. In fact it will cost the league fans.

    If the league could get more of their games on the sports chs and get those chs to show the games repeated from time to time, as some of the games were this year, it might catch the casual surfer as well.
     
  3. FearM9

    FearM9 New Member

    Jul 14, 2000
    On my bike
    WUSA would have to BUY airtime on those other sports channels.

    The league does not have a national footprint like other sports leagues. IMNSHO the league's resources are better spent on cultivating it's existing fan base in the cities it's located in.
     
  4. Adam Zebrowski

    Adam Zebrowski New Member

    May 28, 1999
    I agree the battle is fought in the local markets, where the awareness of each WUSA team is of highest priority.

    Having players do clinics and making media appearances can only do good.

    I still maintain the current fan base is loyal.

    Increasing awareness amongst new fans is the key, and I think the one of one encounters is where this is more likely to happen.

    And Saturday at 4 pm is awkward, some times I'd see a PAX telecast and some times not.
     
  5. Bombatta2

    Bombatta2 New Member

    Ok..... but MLS......

    Ok, FanofFutbol, I understand your arguments, but what about MLS? They are on, of course, at the exact same time, on ESPN2. Is it possible for both leagues to change timeslots/seasons/whatever AND both be on major networks AND both NOT be on at the same time, like now?

    One thing that could help, of course, is for there to be no overtime in MLS, so if the 2 leagues end up sharing a network, back to back, they won't conflict.

    I wonder if sportscasters and sports networks would like MLS a little more if they didn't have overtime. It makes them look very pompous and self-important. They should be satisfies with their 2 hours. Does anybody else remember when an XFL game went into overtime and deeply delayed Jennifer Lopez's first appearance on SNL? Lorne Michaels had a LOT of four-letter-words to say to the XFL......
     
  6. FanOfFutbol

    FanOfFutbol Member+

    May 4, 2002
    Re: Ok..... but MLS......

    The MLS is just as STUPID for choosing this slot as the WUSA. The "good" time slots are fairly limited and it would take an agreement by the two leagues for the audiance to not be split. Something like MLS has an east coast game and the WUSA has a west coast one and it reverses the next week.

    The MLS draws better than the WUSA because they are on a better network, they are better advertised, they have been around longer, and they have a MUCH larger fan base so their ratings are going to be better.

    I would think that the WUSA would be better served by NOT trying to get the "National" contract but rather getting regional contracts and getting the games on chs that people actually get at times that people are likely to be able to watch.

    Or they can try the baseball model. Do NOT worry at all about fans outside the area. Put a good product on the field and let the fan base build gradually based on people going to the games.

    Have radio broadcasts when the fans can support it and only move to TV when the fan base has enough power and numbers to attract the commercial dollars.

    The NFL and NBA did it in a similar way but the skipped the radio part mostly.

    Of course baseball took over 70 years to build before TV became a big deal for them and the NFL about 25 and the NBA about 20 but the WUSA can wait, right.

    I wonder what it would cost for the MLS and the WUSA to "rent" a transponder on one of the DTV birds and show all the games there either live (Selected games) or delayed?

    The WUSA is already doing most of the production of the games and the MLS is as well for many on the games.

    Just a random thought...
     
  7. FearM9

    FearM9 New Member

    Jul 14, 2000
    On my bike
    Re: Re: Ok..... but MLS......

    IIRC...it's Winnercomm that is producing the WUSA matches and I *think* they do some of the MLS matches as well although I could be wrong on both accounts.
     
  8. FanOfFutbol

    FanOfFutbol Member+

    May 4, 2002
    Re: Re: Re: Ok..... but MLS......

    It is still a production that is not tied to a network, I believe, so the cost does not change no matter where it is broadcast.

    In the above post I meant to say rent a couple of channels on a transponder on a DTV bird. A transponder can have as many as 25 channels, I believe and getting an entire transponder is much too much. There is a lot of unused space on the DTV birds since the locals have been moved to the spot beams.
     
  9. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The splitting the soccer ratings fallacy again...

    By all indications, MLS ratings are about the same as they have been, while WUSA's ratings, which were .4 on cable on TNT last year, are .1 on PAX (semi-cable, semi-over-the-air) this year.

    It appears there's no fragmenting going on. There's only MLS kicking WUSA's ass, and, apparently, more evidence for the notion that there isn't a lot of overlap in the two target audiences.
     
  10. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Check that. MLS' ESPN2 ratings are down slightly, but not significantly (when you're dealing with numbers this small). It may, in fact, be that there is a small effect, though it could be attributable to a lot of other things. If WUSA is having the effect, then I apologize for the mis-characterization.
     
  11. Adam Zebrowski

    Adam Zebrowski New Member

    May 28, 1999
    Soccer is the product and if the fact is there's no overlap in WUSA and MLS audiences, then that's the fundamental reason why BOTH are so small.

    If you can't support BOTH WUSA and MLS, then soccer loses.
     
  12. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The problem is, that for better or worse, right or wrong, they're perceived as two different products.

    There are some people who can support MLS, WUSA, and indoor soccer. There are many who look at them as three different products, and only support the one they like the most.
     
  13. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    Is that really true? Can the incredible drop in TV ratings be totally attributed to the move from TNT to PAX? Did all of those viewers suddenly forget that WUSA existed?

    Instead, it tells me that there is a large overlap, and that when forced to choose, the TV viewer (or the one with the clicker) chooses to watch the MLS game on espn2.

    Did we ever get the numbers from August 24th comparing MLS on espn2 vs FCII on PAX?

    WUSA basically shut out the "soccer fan" and "sport fan" this year. They have to stop selling itself as something different. All they do is give Joe and Jane Six-Pack an excuse not to watch, "oh it's that league for little girls." If you sell it as a big sporting event, even 45k+ Canadians will come out to see multiple events.

    The league screwed up. The PTHs were going to come out anyway. The league ignored the sports fan market. MLS has only really started to address these same issues over the last couple of seasons.
     
  14. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I don't know about totally, but I figure it can't be good to go from a network that nearly everybody knows (TNT) to one that virtually no one (relatively speaking) has heard of or knows exactly where to find.

    If that were the case, MLS ratings wouldn't be down, logically, and they are, slightly (to a .19 average for the Saturday telecasts, from a .21 a year ago). That would mean that fewer people are watching WUSA and fewer people are watching MLS. Unless the fact that there's a choice makes people give up, I can't logically reconcile that.

    I think WUSA's TV numbers are due to (a) the move to PAX and (b) the Novelty Effect wearing off. There may be other factors that don't come to mind right away.

    No, and I've been looking for them. I know that the MLS game (San Jose at Colorado) that day did a .19, which was the lowest in a month. I wonder if a lot of folks checked out the WUSA match (like I did) just because it was the final (funny, that day I played in a men's league match, watched a Premier League match, a WUSA match, and that night, saw an MLS match live, and the WUSA match was the best of the four).

    They sure did in Edmonton, didn't they? Hoo-boy. I'm just not sure you can play the "big event" card when everybody knows it's just one of 21 (or 28 in MLS' case) games during a season, and half the teams (or more in MLS' case) make the playoffs anyway.

    I'm not sure the "sports fan" market will ever go to WUSA in any great numbers, will they? I mean, water usually finds its level fairly quickly and then doesn't go too far from that. MLS started strongly, then went back, and is close to where it was at the beginning. I think it's pretty obvious the intrinsic level of interest for MLS average attendance is going to fall somewhere in the 15-20k range and it'd be hard to go above that.

    I think WUSA has shown where its water level is (around 6-10k) and I can't for the life of me see it getting over 12k anytime soon. I just don't think you can make a leap like that, even over time.

    But I could be wrong.
     
  15. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
     
  16. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Is this Andy Mead I'm talking to? ;)

    I'm not understanding you. Because they're both down. People are eroding from MLS and WUSA. And, if you think that TNT 2001-PAX 2002 is a valid comparison (I'm not sure if it is or it isn't), then WUSA is losing scads of viewers and it doesn't appear that they're going to MLS (as I'd think they would, logically, if they were choosing between one or the other). Either the fact that there's now a choice at 4pm means people just say "screw it" and don't watch either, or the bloom is off the rose bigtime in WUSA and slightly in MLS. I'm not totally against the theory that part of MLS' erosion could be because of WUSA being on at the same time, but it doesn't seem as though anybody who's not watching MLS anymore has switched to WUSA, because WUSA's ratings have dropped as well.

    I agree with you there. The hardcores are going to make the effort to find you (have we established that PTH'ers are hard-core TV viewers? I honestly don't know. I have one who probably will be a PTHer in the future, and I can't imagine her just having to watch the game on TV). But people probably aren't going to stumble across you if you're on PAX.

    Oh, that's true, I wasn't busting you on it. My point was that you can't expect that to happen if you asked them to come out 11 times in three months.

    I simply cannot see that (nothing personal). Look at the list of MLS games that have drawn a crowd of 30,000 or more and see (a) how infrequent that is and (b) how it's almost always a 4th of July game or a doubleheader that makes that happen. Now, how many 4th of Julys can we have? How many doubleheaders can you have? If it's that hard to get 30,000 (that's like 5% of all MLS games), how are we going to get to 75k?

    Oh, absolutely. That would be sweet, no doubt. But for all the talk that always comes up about the Cosmos getting 75k, remember, they got 75k at Giants Stadium exactly twice in their history (two playoff games), got 74k for two other playoff games and were over 60k only another 11 times (two playoff games and a TransAmerica Challenge Cup). And that was with probably three of the greatest players ever, with a dominant team during the Soccer Boom (they all came between June of 1977 and July of 1980).

    But that just doesn't happen. A 50% spike league wide just doesn't happen. There's no room in American sports space for that to happen, not to mention the fact that there are certain things about soccer that you and I can not only accept but embrace (it's low-scoring, it's not great for TV, et al) but which virtually preclude it from becoming "fashionable", or gaining mass appeal.

    Okay, let's do that.

    The NBA did see an increase in average attendance between 1979-80 and 1995-96 of nearly 60% (59.4%). I'm sure you know the things that happened to make that possible, but it did it very incrementally (the only double-figure increase from one year to the next was 12.4% in 1988-89 when Charlotte came in and averaged 22k+). However, that assumes what I like to call the Val Ackerman Defense, where she marvels at how the WNBA averaged 10k quicker than the NBA did, ignoring the fact that things were a lot different in 1946 than they are now. There was a lot more room to grow back then. And basketball is a popular sport in our country. I can't see how what made basketball explode in popularity after 1979 has any bearing or is a harbinger for MLS or WUSA because I don't think those factors are going to be repeated.

    Let's look a little more recently, and at a level more comparable to MLS---what has WNBA attendance done? What has minor league hockey attendance done (retrenching now after a boom period)? What has Arena Football attendance done? The AFL has a nice little existence, back up to just under 10k a game (their high was like 12k or something). But they're not going to wake up one morning and be at 20k. The water has found its level.

    NASCAR's interest explosion isn't as relevant either, given the special circumstances of that and the fact that it's a non-team sport.

    I just can't agree with you there. I mean, I agree that 3% is more or less stable, but I don't see there being some big event (star, movie) that is the pebble that starts an avalanche because you're always going to be up against the fact that soccer does not and likely will not appeal to a large enough segment of America for those types of attendances to occur.

    I said once in your fine magazine (Emerald City Gazette, please subscribe now, it's worth it) that MLS is like a guerrilla in that the guerrilla wins as long as he doesn't lose. MLS can continue to eke out an existence and make a little life for itself with soccer-specific stadia and whatnot and hopefully get the P&L numbers closer together, but I just can't see the intrinsic interest in the sport itself growing to the point where the week-in, week-out grind of a league season averages 25k. I just can't. But, contrary to popular belief, no one would be happier to see it happen than me, if for no other reason than to no longer have to explain why I like soccer.

    No, not powerless, but they are, in my opinion, hamstrung a bit by the fact that there is only so much upside to the product in this country.
     
  17. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    P.S. If it's not obvious by now, I like and respect Andy Mead a great deal, and it's enjoyable to have these debates with someone like him as opposed to the newbies who are long on attitude and short on facts and experience that you find elsewhere.
     
  18. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    Understanding my point depends on how much overlap you believed there was last year. If the two leagues had exclusive TV audiences, then yes, my analysis is flawed. If there is a complete overlap, then my analysis is spot on. Reality is somewhere between. I tend to believe that the viewing audience is closer to complete overlap than you do. At least it was last year. What that means is.. The total universe of viewers is defined by the larger viewership of the two leagues. In this case, that would be MLS. Since both games are now on at 4pm Saturdays (well, they were until WUSA finished), the sum of the households watching will be limited to MLS's ratings last year. In other words, that explains why they both declined. That's my point.
    But they did come out. That's the problem. Those folks are there. Surely some were only there for the BIG GAME factor, but I suspect that that number is less than most would imagine. Let's look at the 75k Roma/Real game. That's not really a BIG GAME, but a BIG SOCCER GAME. Unless you are really into soccer, fighting rush hour traffic on a Thursday night to see a European preseason friendly is just not worth the trouble. That game showed us 75,000 soccer fans. Just as the Argentina-Mexico sellout of Soldier Field a couple of years ago did in Chicago. The potential does exist.
    We're not. I should've been more concise. I don't see the 20k MLS ceiling. We could very possibly see a few teams averaging 30-35k in MLS in 10 years given the right, and not extraordinary, circumstances.
    I disagree. I don't dispute your facts, and I'm not talking about 50% in one season. The full effects of Bull Durham took about 5 years to be felt. Minor league sports are a great example. Both positive and negative. Minor League baseball attendances grew by many fold from the desolate 70s to the early 90s. Of course minor league hockey has seen huge reversals in the last 5 years. What goes up, can always come down.

    MLS will likely average 16k this season. It looks good, but it is essentially the same (when factoring out Sept 11 and contraction) as last season. To be completely honest, I believe the league median has grown every year from 97 on, which, to me anyway, is a far more important fact. Simple compound interest of 3% annual growth would turn today's crowds into NFL stadium busting crowds in a few (couple) decades. In other words, it ain't gonna happen. But what can happen is a quick ramp up from 16k to 24-25k. If the league is averaging 24k, then the leaders will almost mathematically be drawing in 30-35k.
    And Andy Busa definitely joined your pessimism, but I believe his ceiling was 20k, not 25k. I'm just not convinced that the ceiling exists. I don't think there's a magic bullet, or secret marketing formula, just time and circumstance. There are too many examples of stadia filled to the brim for soccer games to believe that MLS's limit is 25k or WUSA's is 10k. If you string enough Big Events together, then suddenly you have 10-15 home games.
    What happens when all the Chivas and America fans in LA decide to adopt the Galaxy? The Rose Bowl wouldn't be big enough. No, I'm not suggesting that that will EVER happen. But it points out the fact that soccer watching fans do exist. At some point MLS (and possibly WUSA) will not be the "new bastard child of professional soccer," but something respectable soccer snobs aren't ashamed to support.
     
  19. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    IF there was total overlap, in other words, everyone who watched MLS also watched WUSA. Obviously, that's absurd. So is the idea that everyone either chose to watch one or the other, but I think if you define the total universe for purposes of this discussion as MLS viewers + WUSA viewers you get a closer (but again, not totally accurate, but all of these things are audience estimates anyway) idea of the total number of soccer-watching people. Given that we know that there is less of an audience (by any measure you can come up with, really) for the women's game in this country, by and large, than the men's game, I don't have a hard time believing that you can add the two together and get a better idea of the total viewership than you can by just assuming that the larger of the two automatically includes everybody.

    Had me right up until the end. I don't see how that explains why they both declined. But then, admittedly, I'm going off a different universe estimate than you are, and I'm not sure which of us is closer to the truth. But mine is the one I'm more comfortable with.

    Why? What is the basis for that? When we have umpteen number of BIG GAMES that draw well and almost NO "run of the mill games" that draw that well, where is the basis for believing that? Where is the disconnect? Why, then, do they come out for this bunch of high school girls, and not (by and large) for "important" WUSA matches played by adult females? Granted, Edmonton doesn't have a WUSA team to test the theory, but, really, how many WUSA games have come close to any of the attendances of the WWC? Or the Olympics? Close, even? Or within 50%? Not many. And if you take out the Inaugural Match, the doubleheaders with United and the Revs and the Beat's home opener (and I think you could agree those were BIG GAMES), it's even fewer than that.

    There's a disconnect between the BIG GAMES and the league schedule. In my mind, it's plain as day. I just think that's a chasm you can't cross logically, and can't ignore statistically.

    And how many of those people will deign to go to an MLS or WUSA match? I mean, seriously, at some point you can't fall back on the old saw that MLS and WUSA just aren't marketing correctly. You and I are exceptions in that (a) we don't have anything to compare MLS or WUSA to back in our primordial pasts (either coming from another country or hearing about it from our family) and (b) we actually want our own leagues to be successful. I would submit that the vast, vast majority of the 75k for Real/Roma wouldn't be caught dead at an MLS match, not that Giants Stadium has some magic formula that the MetroStars can't figure out (though I think there are some things about their decision-makers that are suspect, but that's another can of worms, and I'm not as close to it as some others are).

    I didn't mean 20k as a ceiling for individual teams, I meant it league-wide. Normally I'd say I could see teams in big markets getting to that number in the right, and not extraordinary circumstances, but the #2 market isn't going to have a stadium that big, and if the #1 market succeeds in getting a stadium built, it's not going to be that big, either. That leaves Chicago, which has a very good fan base, but one that isn't going to double anytime soon, a non-existant Philadelphia team, or Boston (maybe).
    The MLS record for season attendance average by a team is 28,916 by the Galaxy in 1996, and only six teams have even cracked 20k per season since then. Even if you assume your own stadium, more stars like Landon Donovan and another good WC run in 2006 by the USA, I am skeptical of the chances of an MLS team averaging 30-35k. Doesn't mean it's impossible, I just don't see it.

    Bull Durham was part of it, I believe, but there were a whole lot of societal and institutional things that made the minor-league baseball boom happen, and I'm skeptical of a film's effect on all that.

    BTW, if you look here, you'll see that NBA attendance has increased 12% in total (by average) in the last 13 seasons, or less than 1% per season. As we used to say around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, "Mario is slowing down."

    Except it's not a fact:

    1996-15,093
    1997-12,733
    1998-11,871
    1999-12,973
    2000-12,690
    2001-13,431
    TOT -13,089

    Up and down. Some growth since 1997, yes, but well within a defined range. At this rate, it'll be a while before that grows, and I'm not sure there's precedent for a median moving too much.


    How? How is that quick ramp-up going to happen? I can't for the life of me imagine the forces that are going to force that many tickets to fly out of the hands of ticket sellers. Not in this sport.

    It's relatively easy to go from 2k to 4k (a 100% increase) if you're really underachieving, just like I could take 20-25 strokes off my (150+ easily) golf game with some lessons and playing regularly. But then it's going to get tougher, and I'm just not going to get to scratch because I don't have the time or interest to devote to it, and probably not the natural ability anyway.

    I agree with you. But I think you have it reversed. First you have to have some teams drawing 30-35k for the league to average 24k. And, as I pointed out above, I'm not sure who those teams are going to be.

    Not sure. I said we probably wouldn't see 20k league-wide for 10 years. That may have been pessimistic on my part, but I'd bet real, live money on 25k for a league average being out of the question in the next ten years and probably in the next 15-20, unless, as I've said before, there's some radical shift in this country's sporting tastes, or some disease hits us and no one grows over 6-1 or something.

    I agree with you in that I don't think there's a lot, realistically, that "marketing" on MLS or WUSA's part can do by itself to get to those types of numbers. A lot of people like to think there's something wrong with the approach if the numbers aren't where they think they should be, but they need to look at the intrinsic interest in the product, not so much how it's marketed.

    But not for MLS games or WUSA games. There's a disconnect. The US Men's National Team can get 35k for a game in Arrowhead, but the Wizards struggle to get 14. Is that all "marketing"? Those stadia filled to the brim are for big events and are for soccer that is perceived to be of a higher quality and more worthy than our little domestic leagues are. While I can't argue with the notion that our leagues aren't as good as many others in the world (though WUSA has less competition, obviously), I support them and want them to succeed because I take pride in American soccer. But I realize that not everybody else feels that way.

    And if my mom had two wheels, she'd be a bicycle. No one can string together 10-15 big events, it just doesn't work that way. Look at any team's crowds outside the Big Four and outside really, really popular Tier II and Tier III teams that have a relatively small ticket inventory: By and large, they have a few really big gates, some really bad gates, and most that fall somewhere in-between. Americans can't get "up" for every game unless there's a really limited number of them or they're really, really popular (like the NFL, which has just 8 games that matter for most teams).


    More importantly, why haven't they done it yet? And what would lead one to believe that they ever will?

    There is no question they exist. But there's a disconnect between what those people will go see and what we are selling in MLS and WUSA. You and I don't care so much about that disconnect. Those people do.

    That will be nice, and I think you're right. But that day is, I feel, a long time away.
     
  20. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    Kenn, you ignorant slut.... Well, to be honest, I don't think our positions and opinions are that far apart, despite this point/counterpoint. I suspect we have both engaged in a little devil's advocating.

    I'm sure you'll have the last word, but to kind of bring this back on topic, I'll start with MLS.

    I think MLS is more or less over the hump, or at least has the tough climb out of the way. The completion of the Carson facility really does add some permanence to the league. MLS will exist in 10 years. Will it be bigger, better, more wonderful, or will it be the NASL circa 1983? Too early to tell. Chances are it will be slightly ahead, albeit with more teams, of where it is today regardless of TV ratings.

    WUSA, however, is your guerilla. Every year it doesn't get axed is another victory. Folks forget how quickly the ABL shut down. That is not out of the question. At any point in time.

    When MLS states that "funding is in place for five more years," I believe it. The only people that Philip, Robert, and Lamar have to answer to are their wives. If they want to blow a few 10s of million on soccer, that's their problem.

    When the WUSA states the same thing, I roll my eyes. Is that the same 5 year committment that the XFL had? WUSA is owned by public corporations who get to line item earnings every quarter. At some point, any losses in the WUSA will come up in cost cutting discussions. Corporate bean counters have no soul. Lawyers who launch shareholder lawsuits have no soul. That's what scares me about the WUSA. It doesn't even have to be about costcutting. Steven Bruce left Crystal Palace. So much for playing time for Kirovski and Berhalter. A change in management at Time-Warner or COX, and the WUSA could be gone faster than you can type "badda-bing, badda-bang".

    Of course, other than public relations, I really wonder how much attendance matters. When McDonald's can throw a few million dollars at the league, how many butts does it take to offset that on the other side? Sure, if WUSA goes from 7k to 10k next year, the extra 200k attendance will matter. But not as much as McDonalds. Then again, would McDonalds come if the stadia were empty? I guess attendance growth is more important than the actual attendance. Editors, contributors, advertisers, all love growth.

    I still don't think there's any glass ceiling to MLS attendance, though. It may take a long time, but we quickly forget that there was nothing but the A-League only 7 short years ago.
     
  21. One_Ahead

    One_Ahead New Member

  22. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Do you think we're just talking to each other at this point? ;)

    I don't care so much about the last word. If you want it, you can have it. After this, of course. ;)

    I think you're right. I think the worst is past, but we disagree on the upside, is all. LA will be in a new yard, giving us two. Kansas City and New England are in tenable stadium situations, and Chicago will be in at least a favorable one in the new Soldier Field. I believe Colorado has at least a decent deal in Invesco, ditto for Dallas (though their own place would be nice for them). Things move slowly in New York, but, despite Nick's best efforts, I think they'll have someplace to play other than Giants Stadium eventually. DC is okay as long as the Expos don't move there, but it'll be temporary because RFK is okay for MLS but can't deliver the kind of revenue an MLB team needs. San Jose is okay, I guess.

    Absolutely correct. I'm not prepared to declare them out of the woods just yet, but what third-year league can you say that about? As long as they don't base future expenditure decisions on pie-in-the-sky revenue projections and bring those back in line, they can eke out an existence as well.

    I believe it as well. And I believe with the startup costs some 7 years now in the past, and many of the real bonehead moves receding as well, if they're not in the clear, they're not too many exits short of it. How old is Anschutz? 61? I mean, actuarilly, they'll tell you he doesn't have 20 years left. Hopefully we won't need him so much by then.

    That's corporate America for you. And that's one reason why I don't worry at all when someone says Phil Anschutz controls "too much" of MLS. If Ted Stepien controls too much of your league, polish your resume. But if Anschutz is in charge, you stand a much better chance than with the Cox or Time-Warner people in charge, because the history of corporate America tells us the chances of them being here in 5-10 years isn't particularly good.

    Well, there's no question in my mind that we here obsess way too much about the numbers themselves (I mean, we stress about 3.8% growth versus 4.4% growth), but I think it's the best we can do since we don't have the revenue figures. If they put the gate receipts at the bottom of the box score, we'd obsess about those, but we'd have a much, much better idea of where teams stand. Attendance is important from a revenue standpoint, seeing as how that's still going to be not only your top revenue source (almost always), but it's going to drive the other revenue sources.

    There's the idea. McDonalds can give you $7 million once, but they're not going to do it if there's no one there. And they're not going to do it again when the time comes if people haven't shown up. Regardless of how little money, relatively, $7 million is to McDonald's.

    It's better than a sharp stick in the eye, that's for sure. As long as you can show growth, it's a positive thing, even if it's 2% growth. Image is reality in our culture many times, and 15,000 people in a 22,000 seat stadium looks a hell of a lot more impressive than 15,000 people in a 56,000 seat stadium.

    And that's the key point on which I and many others (including yourself) disagree.

    In its heyday more than 20 years ago, the NASL was doing about 13-14k announced a game. We're only slightly above that now, with a much more organized (if less star-studded) and stable league. There's more competition now, but there's also a lot of recent history for leagues and sports at this level for us to examine and see the trends---does anyone explode overnight? No, not really. There's too much else out there and the walls are closer than you think.

    And you're never going to get past the objections that the rank-and-file have about soccer. It's low-scoring. You're never going to get past that. It's perceived as boring (I don't think so, you don't think so, there are probably a few million people who don't think so, but there are many million who do think so), and you're not going to change those people's minds. It's not a great TV sport. While the sport has working-class appeal in almost every other country in the world, it doesn't here, and no sport has ever really attained "major" status in this country without appealing to the working class.
     
  23. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    That multichannel news article has these tidbits:

    That would tend to decrease, you'd think, the overlap.

    MLS' is predominantly male.

    I'm sure there are people who watch both. I'd imagine WUSA loses a lot more in the footrace than MLS does.
     
  24. superdave

    superdave Member+

    Jul 14, 1999
    VB, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    1. This statement is too vague, to me, to have any meaning or value.

    2. College basketball, college football, and the NBA may have had some appeal for the working class, but the center of gravity for them in their growth stages were NOT the working class.

    3. Even major league baseball...it achieved major status when games were all played during the day, AND the labor movement was not bouyed yet by New Deal legislation. I doubt that too many of the fannies in the seats Monday through Friday were working class. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

    4. a) The working class, to me, in this context, means blue collar workers. How many of them are there left, anyway?
    b) Here in North Carolina, the percentage of blue collar workers who are Hispanic would probably shock you. I only speak for this area. But if NC reflects the nation as a whole, you may want to re-think this as an obstacle to MLS growth.
     

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