Monday, March 10, 2014

The Advocate's Devil

There are moments in time, moments when the rampaging crowd is armed, liquored-up and encouraged by a modicum of righteous indignation, that scream out for some poor misguided soul to step directly into the path of the blood-sacrifice seeking horde. I come in peace. Please don't kill me.

Recent events regarding The Columbus Crew have conspired to turn the (usually cynical-at-worst) Crew fan base into a mob of Twitter, Facebook and blog posting demons. The vitriol spewed throughout social media, vitriol aimed at The Crew and Time Warner Cable, is certainly merited in many regards. Yet, if recent events: TV contracts, a new owner, a new coach and a seemingly more competitive and enjoyable team to watch on the field are viewed without seething hate and anger, very interesting mid and long term implications for The Columbus Crew, their fans and their partners can be seen.

The most obvious of these "implications" is The Columbus Crew having a television broadcast partner who is just as interested in seeing the team succeed as the organization itself. Pre and post game shows, multiple replays of each Black and Gold game and a regional marketing push can only be a good thing. A multi-year contract lends depth to the above facts.

A less obvious advantage to our Crew is what Time Warner Cable buying the broadcasting rights means to TWC, besides the hoped for profits. They are a business, right?

To make the purchase of broadcasting rights a net positive, TWC must find ways to leverage The Crew brand and draw more customers to their service. It goes without saying that soccer is at the core of this broadcast partnership; so, soccer must be at the core of all efforts to leverage The Columbus Crew brand.

Put down your pitchforks, Uzi's and hyper Twittering fingers for a moment and think about some of the things that TWC could do with, and alongside, The Crew game broadcasts. The list grows rather quickly.

How about a high school game of the week sponsored by TWC, The Crew, Barbasol, etc?

How about Ohio's College Game of the Week?

What about the new Dayton affiliate?

Perhaps broadcasts of the highest level youth club matches. Say...U16 and above age groups, things like state cup semi's and final, Crew Academy games, there are loads of potential matches.

Add to those local possibilities other desirable national and international soccer related opportunities, and Time Warner Cable in Columbus, Ohio and the region has a very real chance to create a unique space within their portfolio of channels. This "unique space" would be attractive to thousands, if not tens of thousands, of potential new customers, as well as TWC's existing base.

The above thoughts are of little solace to the many Crew fans who are currently missing out on watching The Black and Gold on TV. And indeed, Time Warner Cable may not have the slightest intention of doing any of those things. Undeniably though, a creative, forward looking company will have already begun to plan how to leverage the purchase of broadcast rights to our Columbus Crew. If TWC executives are creative and forward looking they will have already come up with these and many more ideas.

I cannot speak for the hundreds of thousands of soccer fans reading this blog; but, I do believe that many of you would switch to Time Warner Cable if the company leverages The Crew brand and the popularity of soccer across all demographics. Crew fans, The Crew and TWC would end up singing Kumbaya down by the Scioto River in the intimate 35,000 seat Crew Brew District Stadium, on Saturday nights, as the sun sinks in the west and The Black and Gold destroy the latest in a long line of over-hyped, over-priced, no-talent City's, United's, Galaxy's and FC's.

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