Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Should MLS Play All Its Matches at Night?
MLS is in a constant psychological battle for relevance with and against the 'big four' (basket, football, base and hockey), and must consider all angles to growing the sport's popularity with the masses.
Without question, all the sports must battle each other for the sports fan's attention because without relevance among sports fans, the bottom line is at risk.
Dollars are won and lost according to how the media divvies up the spotlight and this spotlight is determined by who has the sports fan's attention.
Right now in America, Soccer is trending up. And, much of a trend in U.S. spectator sports depends on what is seen and viewed on television.
For a televised experience, a great sports spectator experience has everything to do with the ambience at the game.
Sports fans can't ignore the excitement of highlights with fans in a frenzy at the ballpark, nor can they ignore the dullness of an empty ballpark.
How sports fans see other sports fans on Tv has never mattered more than now.
Once fans accept Soccer more fully, it will be considered mainstream. Many sports fans are still not familiar with Soccer and this is why Soccer is on the cusp of becoming mainstream.
Complete mainstream status is a reality that may only be 2-3 years away.
Ultimately, it is the media that determines when mainstream is achieved. But, their determination will be a direct result of advertising dollars, which is a direct result of fan support.
The media will propel Soccer to mainstream status fastest when it is bought in on the irreversible fact that Soccer is here to stay with a prosperous future ahead.
Each media outlet will find a way to bring Soccer its proper amount of coverage because it can't risk not doing so. Too much money is at stake.
They will always find the best methods to the heart of sports fans by giving the appropriate amount of time to Soccer events, including scores, highlights, interviews and analysis. Follow-up discussions on TV, radio and print will become much more prevalent.
Of course, MLS must consider all possibilities to capitalize on its rise in popularity. One thing to consider among the many is to schedule a much higher percentage of its games at night, possibly all of them.
The sportscenter-type highlights of matches at night are undeniably more exciting than the ones for the daytime. Fans are coming in bigger numbers and their presence at nighttime matches adds a luster not seen during the daytime. Fans at night rock the stadiums with more chants, more standing and more general raucous.
If the hometown team scores that late goal to win or any exciting goal is scored, the nighttime crowd provides an added boost to the goal. Daytime goals are exciting too, but the crowds are proving that the nighttime atmosphere is euphoric and its transference to television is obvious.
Not every stadium is displaying sold-out frenzied nighttime crowds. But enough of them are to indicate that nighttime is the right time for MLS right now.
MLS must take advantage of the exuberance coming through on television. They must schedule more nighttime matches so that more highlights of jubilant crowds can be seen as often as possible.