Sunday, March 13, 2016

ESPN SportsCenter Promotes Liga MX Rivalry Match

The promotion I saw wasn't on ESPN Deportes. I saw it on the regular, powerful ESPN channel, clear as day on Saturday morning.  A full day and a half ahead of the scheduled game, a segment of SportsCenter was dedicated to Chivas Guadalajara versus Club America. Apparently, this is Liga MX's biggest or most important rivalry, something I didn't know.

I was a little stunned when I saw the segment because I've seen scores from Liga MX on the ticker from ESPN, and I've noticed a few profiles over the last couple of years focused on popular Mexican soccer players, but I don't recall any specific time from SportsCenter allocated to a particular Liga MX game.

Times have changed and marketing strategies for ESPN have changed, too.

I can't find the video from that exact segment, but here is ESPN's full promotion with the same female pundit I saw giving the update from Saturday morning.

Obviously, this match means something big in Mexico, but this strategy for ESPN to promote it here in the U.S. shows how much the Mexican-American audience means for Tv ratings.  ESPN programming has taken the decision to promote Liga MX even when the American league, MLS, is in full session with its season.

ESPN may be deciding that Liga MX is the higher quality league (due to its dominance over MLS teams in CONCACAF Champions League) and deserves respect and promotion for all soccer fans living in the U.S. If this is the case, wow, MLS' job just got that much harder to follow through on.

How can MLS ever expect to find its casual sports fan audience, when ESPN is willing to prop up significant rivalries from competing leagues from around the world.  It's one thing when it's Real Madrid versus Barcelona and four of the biggest soccer stars being showcased (Neymar, Ronaldo, Suarez and Messi), but Chivas versus Club America is probably not deserving (of ESPN promotion) in the eyes of MLS.

Take nothing away from Chivas versus Club America. I'm sure they are quality teams with quality players. Who knows, if there isn't much going on, I just might tune in for this Clasico, Sunday night. But, I doubt it.

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