For this season, MLS is trying to avoid national broadcasts with empty stadiums. The league is passing over some of the bigger metro markets to focus on the markets that are thriving. The national schedule is emphasizing Seattle, Kansas City, Orlando and Portland while placing less emphasis on New England, Dallas, DC United and Chicago.
This is at least one good move by the league in trying to change the perception of professional club soccer in the United States. It's an attempt to grab casual sports fans and prove that the game is not boring. It may improve national Tv ratings. Usually, excitement at the venue translates to a better television viewing experience and less excitement will generally mean lower ratings.
Unfortunately, a better reputation for national MLS viewing won't help local broadcasts for teams who can't fill their stadiums. And, better local Tv ratings for MLS games are an integral aspect for claiming the league is robust. All of the Tv ratings for MLS need to improve.
Higher ratings and solid, consistent ratings will mean that MLS can overcome obstacles that operate as competition. Full, vibrant stadiums, regardless of market size, sends a message of enthusiasm and energy. Casual fans may finally stay tuned to MLS even when American football begins its season. And, soccer fans may finally choose MLS over EPL and other world leagues.
With international tournaments included, there's just too much soccer to absorb, sometimes. Ratings may be best for MLS when it is able to distinguish itself.
If the Tv ratings still don't come for MLS, with this special emphasis on dominant soccer metro markets, than it may be time to keep the pressure on FIFA and help evolve the world's sport.