I have been trying to figure out if last week’s announcement that the MLS will move to NBC (really Versus Network, which will become NBC Sports Network on Jan 2, 2012) will really push the MLS (and U.S. Soccer) forward.
The best I can tell is that the MLS is anticipating a huge marketing banana as result of the larger NBC Sports coverage of the 2012 Olympics. I’m never one to call hoping a decent strategy!
Versus Network in and of itself has been a death sentence for the IRL.
IndyCar’s ratings, while still a long way from NASCAR’s, for example, recently resulted in its three most-watched races on Versus this summer (Texas, Toronto and Edmonton), though all of those ratings points were less than 1.0, which represents 1.1 million households.
The rebranding of Versus should make the channel–which some have complained is too obscure and difficult to find, especially for casual fans–much more of a household name. IndyCar certainly hopes some of that expanded recognition will rub off on it.
There we go with that hopeful thing again. The top three IRL races on Versus have netted a total of 3.3 million viewers. Wow; let’s be honest, those number suck.
I agree that moving to the NBC brand will be better for the MLS, but to me it seems like the MLS would have tried to go all in with ESPN.