Wednesday, January 15, 2020

5 Things To Improve Crew Broadcasts

Changes are coming to MLS local TV broadcasts and it means that you will likely no longer have a local team calling the games (Dwight Burgess and Neil Sika here in Columbus).

What I'm hearing is that, in an effort to sweeten the pot a bit, MLS will be bundling up all team broadcasts and selling it to the highest TV bidder (likely ESPN+, for local games). This means what you experience will be much more like the NFL or EPL in that there will be a dozen broadcast teams calling games each weekend as opposed to having a TV team for every team.

This makes sense as the league expands beyond 26 teams. As it stands now, on any given league weekend with, say, 30 teams, you would have 30 broadcasting teams. Some away teams travel, most do not and call games from a TV feed (which sucks). Along with that MLS requires each team to secure some sort of local broadcast deal themselves which leads to a wild landscape in terms of quality.

That will most likely change here as soon as next year when MLS's tv rights are re-negotiated. I do expect MLS to force local teams to maintain their broadcasting capabilities (cameras and everything required), and perhaps even have them sell ad space.

So, with changes on the horizon. What better time to discuss ways to improve the look and feel of the Crew on TV at home at Crew Stadium as well as the new stadium going in next year.

Here we go!

1. Move the main stand camera up higher.
Opens up the pitch and looks less like a basketball or football game. MLS is plagued by this as most stadiums they played in were, in fact, NFL stadiums and they used their camera nests or whatever they call them. It was sold as wanting to show the action and instead of being too far away and lulling people to sleep. Showing action up close has never worked for the league and the constant camera movement gives you a headache. Another way to think about this is in terms of the evolution of the US viewer. They are watching more and more games outside MLS that have better views as well as playing on of the most sold video games year after year in EA's FIFA. Americans get the game. No need for gimmicks.

2. Add cameras directly behind the goals, in the stands
Shows buildups, defensive movement. Opens up the pitch and describes the action a lot better.

3. Have cell phones and DSLR's all over the sidelines, where possible
More and more I see footage from people right on the sidelines, often opposite of the ad-boards. They capture wonderful moments, up close and personal, after goals or from behind free kicks. This should be all over social media or in-game recaps. It's raw and emotional, often.

4. Always find players during stoppages
I do not understand why local broadcasts do not do this. Lack of cameras? The NFL has the luxury of tons of downtime to show players and coaches, but if anything, this is where MLS needs to pull from. Free kicks, goal kicks, player injuries, cats running onto the pitch. Show me the players. They are always up to something. Also, it helps fans with familiarity. No helmets hiding their faces.

5. Allow the broadcast to breathe
Before and after the game. Players let their emotions run free before and especially after. Follow them around. It could be guys just talking to each other. Or another jogging straight for the locker room. Or, wondering over to thank the support. Just let the camera talk and walk and tell the cackling idiots on the broadcast to shut up.

Next up is how to improve viewership on replays and highlight videos. I promise it is simple and incredible.

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