NASL, Cosmos look to expand, improve television product


Even in today’s high tech world with various different outlets to enjoy your favorite shows and events, television broadcasts are still of paramount importance to the health of sports teams and organizations nationwide.

The New York Cosmos and the NASL are no different.

The still-growing league has struggled to find their footing on match broadcasts.  Attempts to personally host and stream matches have been executed with a modicum of success, with reviews of their service ranging from indifferent approval to outright disdain.  On the other hand, their ESPN3 streaming game of the week offering was well-received all around — even as the production value left much to be desired.

That is at the crux of the league’s growth discussion.

“The issue has always been quality of the feedback from our road matches,” New York Cosmos COO Erik Stover explains.

NASL boss Bill Peterson concurs.  “It’s takes a little more technology and money to get it done and requires each team have a strong broadcast,” he tells EOS.  “There are still a couple of clubs that have to step it up and go a little further with that but we are getting close.”

The second division of U.S. soccer is not flush with money.  That is an understatement.  Therefore, when larger income teams like the Cosmos, who put out perhaps the best transmissions league wide, are asked to feature the product of another market, standards fall — even as quality across the league improves.  Homer announcers take local fans out of the match.  Low budget sets cheapen the feel of the league.

At the same time, remote broadcasts are an expensive affair.  Travel, equipment, talent and other production costs can run teams in the thousands.  Even in MLS, teams have struggled to keep up with those expenditures.  In fact, it was not too long ago that MSG pulled Red Bull announcers from road games, forcing them to call matches from a New York studio as a cost savings.

The coming Jacksonville Armada will televise both their home and away matches.  The Cosmos, meanwhile, will expand their presence on One World Sport with an extra smattering of road games as well.  Two other NASL clubs are close to mirroring those steps.

Still, both the league and their clubs know they are a long way from attracting major interest from large-scale sporting providers — and those are the types of deals that fund leagues worldwide.

“We are still early days for anything that would be considered a significant media deal,” Peterson admits.  “We just keep looking at how do we improve production and local distribution. We will have teams now, I don’t know if it will be 100%, but we will have teams broadcasting away games back in their market this year. We have raised our standards significantly.”

“Some markets, what passes for acceptable for streaming simply wouldn’t work on HDTV,” Stover adds.  “We have to get everyone to a minimum standard which is a bigger focus on the league.”

One solution for standardization comes in the form of One World Sport.  The Cosmos affiliate is expanding operations, establishing a presence on local cable providers nationwide.

“It’s possible [but] I can’t speak on their behalf,” Stover said.  “I think it’s figuring out not only what works for the entire league but also doesn’t interfere with local television deals.

“Our clubs are independent and make their own business decisions but you have to work around those for league wide TV deals.”

It’s a possibility even Peterson acknowledges could be the right fit.  “That conversation does take place and I think if that turns out to be something that is beneficial, me personally, I don’t believe there would be opposition doing something with them on a greater scale,” he shares.  “Having that conversation two years ago is different than having that conversation today. They have proven they take great care of the product, do a great job with the production, their delivery is good, their household universe continues to expand greatly. They are in the mix of the conversations we have for sure.”

But OWS is not the only player in their conversations.  For the realities of today, both the NASL and their teams continue to weigh out a proper balance between their streaming opportunities and their television content.

“Is [subscription streaming] the best model for developing this league and growing it or should we make all the streams available? We are evaluating subscription issue. It’s the future, there is no doubt it’s the future, but is the future today? Or should we focus on a little bit more exposure right now, come back to that later and let somebody else plow that row?” Peterson says.

“We will get [national television] sorted out as we get closer to the 18 teams, but this year, it is really what do we do with the streams, let’s make sure the away broadcast is coming in and there may be some surprises before the season. Let’s see.”

  • Jimmy Pagani

    He seguido toda la temporada gracias a, tiene un costo accesible pero a veces la transmisión no es buena. Quiero ver siempre al NY Cosmos. Creo que harían muy bien en tener también la opción de relatos en español, creo que nadie ignora que equipos como Cosmos son una leyenda en latinoamérica.

  • Jfeelgood

    Cosmos – yawn.

  • RMc

    Hey, Cosmos! If you want any respect, you need to put your games on a REAL channel and play your matches in a REAL stadium. Even if it means sharing SNY with NYCFC and sharing CitiField with the Mets. Playing at Hofstra and on a channel nobody gets will not get you where you want to go.

    • jor

      Be serious, the only REAL stadium around NY is RBA. I’ve been to Yankee Stadium twice for soccer and it’s not good. I wouldn’t go to Citi even for baseball.