RailHawks Owner Confirms NASL-ESPN3 Deal, Addresses Pursuit of New TV Partner



Still relatively new owner of the Carolina RailHawks, Steve Malik, let slip this week that the North American Soccer League will be continuing its broadcast partnership with ESPN’s streaming service, ESPN3.

Malik dropped the news on the debut episode of the Inverted Triangle Podcast in an interview with host Neil Morris that shed a light on his adjustment to owning a professional sports team, his thoughts on the NASL’s pursuit of top division status, as well as the myriad of ways he plans on focusing his increased investment in the club post-Traffic Sports.

“This year, you’re going to see ESPN3 like you’ve seen before, with a greatly enhanced TV viewership experience,” said Malik. “For instance, I know all the teams in the league committed to additional HD cameras. We’re going to have a roving cameras, where we can interview players and do better features. We’ve streamlined our sponsorship presence when we’re broadcasting, so we have ad tracks now and we’re going to have on-field seating.

“I think when you see that on TV, it’s going to look great.”

While elaborating on the NASL’s commitment to enhancing broadcast quality in every market across the league, Malik also hinted at the speculation that the league is actively exploring more traditional broadcast options, like Television.

“And all of the clubs are putting in big investments to really step up our game with what we’re doing on the broadcasting side, as well as a number of other aspects that I think make us more attractive to TV,” he continued. “There’s certainly a lot of conversation around the followers of the league around other options, and of course they continue to be pursued.”

That comment from Malik could possibly revive interest in a rumor that circulated in February that the NASL’s Spring Season might be broadcast by a CBS network.

“I’m not smart enough to predict the timing on, you know, media executives and getting all that aligned,” Malik offered when pressed on the possibility of a new broadcaster partner for the Spring season. “But I do know that we’re on the way up as a league in that regard, and it certainly makes it a lot more attractive.

“I’ll just add that, as we get a more international flavor in this league, there’s some big money that’s come in as ownership and those folks have quite a bit of media experience among that group. So I don’t think there’s a limitation to the international potential for media.”

The continued streaming partnership between the NASL and ESPN should come as no surprise. The platform was generally positively reviewed in its first season hosting nearly every league match for viewers in the U.S. last year. The only matches excluded from the ESPN deal were New York Cosmos home matches and the Fall Season weeknight matches, which were only available through One World Sports.

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  • Arsenal10023

    Keep it going NASL. You will be challenging MLS in the future….as there is plenty of room in the USA for both top leagues to do real well. Once you get to 20 teams, then you can start building out the lower leagues and begin pro/rel. All good for soccer here in the USA.

    • Scott Low

      and Canada why do you people keep ignoring us here north of the 49th

  • Eric B

    And the NASL as a league continues to have a better tv deal than the Cosmos, even if it’s online-only, as ESPN3 has a significantly higher distribution than OWS. Even CBSSN has more distribution than OWS. If the Cosmos continue with the OWS partnership, then they are condemning themselves to less national viewership than the rest of the league, which is asinine in my mind for a team that supposedly has such high ambitions. Sad, really. I guess I’ll just have to continue watching every other team except for the Cosmos this year.

    • DanGerman

      The Cosmos are partial owned by the head of OWS so that’s not changing anytime soon, its unfortunate as I think it hurts more then helps.

      • Kevin

        I agree OWS doesn’t help us at all

  • nickp91

    Personally I didn’t expect CBS Sports to pick up all games. My theory is that they would broadcast one featured national Saturday night “Game of the Week” with their own announcers, graphics (and potentially camera crew, although they could call the game from studio

    • Smurf040

      Hey, go to start somewhere! 👍

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