Stover talks Cosmos marketing plans, TV deal and more

Cosmos TV

EOS sat down with New York Cosmos Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover to discuss the state of the team. In this third part of our conversation, we discuss the Cosmos’ marketing plans for 2014, season ticket sales and the possibility of another TV deal.

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Whether a casual soccer supporter or a rabid fan of the New York Red Bulls, most will agree that the New York Cosmos did an outstanding job of marketing their second division side throughout most of last year.

There were major announcements like the shirt sponsorship of Emirates Air, or the signing of Marcos Senna that circulated across local and national media outlets. However, it was the grassroots ground game that really gained traction and visibility for the franchise. Player appearances at local festivals, giveaways in major transportation hubs and even the use of social media managed to keep the NASL side in the public consciousness.

Most of that was done using the cache of the Cosmos name on a shoe-string budget. Nevertheless, COO Erik Stover says you can expect the team to once again squeeze every bit of that fund to replicate last year’s success.

“We don’t have huge budgets so we try to spend our money wisely, whether in the front office or on the field,” he tells EOS. “We are getting ready to roll out a plan – mostly grassroots again – because that’s who we are. We have a diverse roster, a diverse front office. We think definitely that’s how we are going to grow. We are spending our time and resources into the community, whether it’s Long Island, Queens or Brooklyn, Manhattan, wherever. You will see more of that with us.”

The formula is similar to what the original Cosmos attempted to achieve at their inception.  Back then, soccer was non-existent in the United States, so it would not be rare for the occasional player to make personal appearances in small venues to promote the team — and the sport.  With soccer more popular than ever in the U.S., and the Cosmos brand still a fairly recognizable commodity, half of that job is already done for them, but the concept of a personal touch continues to be effective for the current team.

“I think they have lived up to the previous New York Cosmos and it has nothing to do with their record or how they have done on the field,” Cosmos legend Shep Messing tells EOS. “I am thrilled by how they have reached out to the community. That’s what we did 35 years ago – everyone of the players. That’s what i see these New York Cosmos doing. Everyday it seems they are out making appearances, they are out doing grassroots stuff. They are connected to the fabric of the community.”

Sticking to the mantra of creating “a proper soccer club,” Stover believes that local legwork is already beginning to bear fruit and lay roots for the team’s short and long term plans. “We feel we are making deeper connections with people everyday and the support will just grow over time,” he notes.

That has reflected in the team’s season ticket sales, which Stover claims are doing well. “It’s never easy,” he points out. “There is a lot of competition in this market, but we feel very good about where we are numbers wise and also the quality of the numbers — people that rally care about what we are doing and stakeholders in the community that are spreading the word. We are optimistic we will have another good year.”

TELEVISION TIME

Another important piece in the growth of the Cosmos product was their surprising ability to acquire a television home with SNY. While many of the games were preempted or tape delayed, it was still a monumental achievement, especially for a second division side.

With their current deal expired, the Cosmos are working on finding a TV home this year as well, but with the Spring season mere months away, there is no deal put in place just yet.

“It’s One World Sports decision to simulcast the match,” Stover reveals. “We are certainly hopeful that will happen again. It is my understanding they are in negotiations with a few different organizations. Hopefully we will get a decision done soon.”

The interested parties are all cable based outlets. Nevertheless, it is the Cosmos COO’s ambition that wherever they find a new home, it serves to showcase the team in more households.

“I think it’s in everybody’s best interest that as One World Sports tries to grow and the New York Cosmos tries to grow, that we have wider distribution.”

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PART I: Stover talks Belmont stadium, NYCFC, Hofstra and difficulties of building in NY

PART II: Stover defends Cosmos’ spending, disputes team’s role in original NASL collapse

  • The real Stan

    Put them on MSG, Shep, Tina, and them have the best local coverage out thete

  • Bill

    *

  • The Cosmos should be pushing for a deal with a local broadcaster or cable network, because I really had difficulty watching the away games. I caught most of the SNY games, which was great, but they did not broadcast the away games, which I had to hope the NASL opponent would have the stream on uStream and it wasn’t often. One World Sports would require you to install separate streaming software to watch the games and this software would use your bandwidth to help stream to other users. This was a real turn off and I didn’t want to install this software and I hope they don’t have similar requirements, as I notice they have a relaunch of their website.
    The games should be as simple to view as possible and if you can’t have a broadcast partner, then the games should be streamed online for free via simple streaming services, like Youtube or uStream or any of the numerous services. The NASL and Cosmos should be embracing as many users as possible and this wont happen with services that require registration to a site and separate programs to download, which want to access your bandwidth for the company’s benefit.