The New England Revolution are making big moves in New England right now, despite a player strike on the horizon. Today, it was announced that the Revs have signed a season long agreement with media giant Comcast. The Revs will televise 27 of the 30 games on Comcast’s New England based channel, showing them in glorious high-definition for over 4 million viewers.
“We are very excited to partner with Comcast SportsNet to bring the Revolution in high definition to our fans across New England,” Revolution Chief Operating Officer Brian Bilello said. This move can hopefully bring the Revs to a regular television audience in high-definition, bringing in some new viewers and fans. This will also help establish the team as a staple in New England as the Summer roles in.
One of the issues I speak about often here on this blog is regular air-time and scheduling for the MLS and its teams. Not enough of the games are aired on a regular schedule, making it difficult for the layman fan or even the passionate one, to follow their team and its progress. If each team can control a piece of the media in their market or create a better viewing experience for the fan than the team can make some money and in turn make the league stronger financially.
This move to make the Revolution a part of the regular television schedule should be a positive experience for both the Revolution and its fans. I know the Krafts will still be on top of how the club is perceived and the viewer experience, they will be producing all of the regular season games till on Comcast SportsNet with their production team.
Kraft Sports Production is keeping on Brad Feldman for his 10 season as the team’s play-by-play man. Feldman will be joined by 11 year MLS veteran, former Revolution star and U.S. Men’s National Team player, Jay Heaps for color commentary. This will be Heaps, a Longmeadow, Mass. native, first season as a color commentator after retiring from the Revolution in December.
If this experiment suceeds then it will be a big step in a positive direction for a league that is looking to identify itself throughout the United States and the World as an up and coming power.
That is if the season gets under way on time.
MLS Player’s to Strike, if Needed
With the Major League Soccer Player’s Union voting unanimously to strike if an agreement is not met between them and the Owners before opening night, March 25, the players have made it clear that they intend to sit out the season if need be.
The players are holding out for more free-agent rights and more guaranteed contracts.
Now, many of us will say “wait they are just playing soccer and getting paid millions!” Not true in the MLS. It is reported that the players median salary last year was $88,000 for last year. The average salary was much higher because of a few (*cough* David Beckham *cough*) high end contracts that sine international stars hold. Many of those players don’t have guaranteed money either, and some have to work some side jobs to supplement their playing time. And when their contract runs up or the team values them as expendable, then they can’t even sign with another side without their team’s consent. It was a messy bargaining agreement that surely will not be repeated, but it was a necessary one five years ago when the leagues was struggling.
These guys are living out their dream, or trying too, and they can’t catch a break in the MLS–which is many players first and only break.
What makes this mess even worse, our league is looked down upon throughout Europe because those players are use to being able to have some pull int heir contract talks, and who wants to move to a second-rate league if you don;t get paid as much and you don;t have any freedoms? I know I wouldn’t, and I know a player like Thierry Henry won’t.
The league and players need to make some compromises and get going here before next week rolls around, or both sides will be in huge trouble. The players won’t have anywhere to play, the league will have a lot of empty seats and some major debt to work its way out of.
The players really have the owners in a bind here. A new franchise in Philadelphia will have its inaugural season, New York Red Bulls have a new soccer first stadium to fill, and other franchises have been announced for expansion int he coming years. If it all fails this eyar and we have a strike, fans could and will lose faith in the expanding league.
I know as a fan, I want this thing to be done so our National team has some match-fit players ready to fill-in for anyone who gets hurt at the World Cup as well.
Come on boys, reach an agreement this weekend so I can sleep easy next week.
Editor’s Note: The Player’s Union and Owners have reached a new five year agreement since this article was written. There will not be a player’s strike and the MLS season will start on time.
Kevin Koczwara is the editor of The Soccer Guys and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow The Soccer Guys on Twitter for all your Soccer news and needs!