MLS Notebook: Talent lineup for Apple TV deal; Owners consider best-of-three in playoffs

Major League Soccer is finalizing its list of play-by-play and color commentators who will serve as talent for its MLS Season Pass broadcasts on Apple TV, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.

Those sources spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their relationship with MLS executives. Former ESPN commentator Taylor Twellman, who announced last week that he is leaving the network, is among the broadcasters who have reached an agreement with MLS.

Others who are expected to be on that list, or are in various stages of discussion, include play-by-play commentators Keith Costigan, Ed Cohen, Steve Cangialosi, Tyler Terrance, Eric Krakauer and Kevin Egan. Color commentators include Brian Dunseth, Lloyd Sam, Kindra de St. Aubin, Ross Smith, Tony Meola and Jamie Watson. Former MLS players Maurice Edu, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan have also held preliminary talks with MLS, sources said.

Update: In a press release on Tuesday, MLS The following talent has been signed: Max Bratos, Steve Cangialosi, Jake Zivin, Pablo Ramirez (Spanish-language), Frédéric Lord (French-language) For play-by-play, game analysts: Kindra de St. Aubin, Maurice Edu, Lori Lindsey, Daniel Slaton, Taylor Twellman, Marcelo Balboa (Spanish-language), Sebastian Le Toux (French-language), Sacha Kljeston, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Diego Valeri (Spanish-language) and studio hosts: Liam McHugh, Jillian Sakowitz, Tony Cherchi (Spanish-language).

MLS is expected to unveil at least some of the talent as part of a preseason media event in California on Tuesday. Other broadcasters not mentioned above will be included in the full list of commentators. Of the final group of commentators, some will be guaranteed a minimum number of games during the season while others will have more flexible arrangements.

Some notable names who have been told they won’t be part of the main thrust of early coverage but could be featured in some capacity down the road include JP DellaCamera, Dave Johnson and Shep Messing.

Several sources said there are concerns about how much will stay up in the air so close to the season, which begins in 47 days on Feb. 25. The league has opted to hand over the production of the games to sports media giant IMG, sources said. , and multiple sources said IMG has hired John McGuinness, who has worked on NHL and Olympic broadcasts, as top producer for MLS.

The league and Apple announced a 10-year, $2.5 billion broadcast deal last June that will see the tech giant watch every single MLS regular season and playoff game on the Apple TV streaming service starting this season. Most of those games will be shown on the MLS Season Pass subscription service, though More than 40 percent of them will be available for free.

The league previously announced that the Season Pass app will cost $12.99 per month or $79 per season for those who subscribe to Apple TV+, and $14.99 per month or $99 per season for non-subscribers. MLS season ticket holders receive one free subscription to the service per account.

New season pass The app will also include a significant amount of club-created content in channels called “Club Rooms”. According to an internal league document acquired by athletic This week, those club rooms need special content before and during the season, including club profiles, player profiles and a fan/culture-specific feature called “The Ritual.” Those channels will also feature weekly and monthly content on the season including club “Legends”, team traditions and big games in team history, as well as first-team reports, player interviews, MLS Next Pro and Academy reports and community. reports.

MLS will also simulcast games on linear TV: 34 regular-season and eight post-season games will be broadcast on the Fox networks, 21 League Cup games will be shown on Univision/UniMás/TUDN in the US and a significant number of games will be shown on TSN. and RDS in Canada.

Considering the best-of-three series for the league playoffs

MLS is considering changing its playoff format to include a best-of-three series in the first round, multiple sources said. athletic.

If adopted, it is likely that the first round will only be contested as a best-of-three tournament. Sources who were not authorized to speak publicly about the proposed changes said the rest of the playoff tournament could be single-elimination. The proposed format would be divided by conference and include 16 teams, eight each from the East and West.

Sources did not know the exact details of how the potential best-of-three series would be contested, but many noted that MLS used the format for the opening two rounds of the playoffs in its early years. In those series, overtime was added in the third game when the first team to reach five points was tied at three or four points.

A best-of-three proposal now looks more likely to pass than a previously discussed proposal to change the playoff format to include group and knockout stages. That was the proposal Disclosure by athletic In October.

As reported by athletic In October, MLS is looking to increase the total number of playoff games to around 30 from 13 contested in 2022. Sources said the league is looking to do it in part so it can increase its overall slate of playoff games for the first time. Year of its new media rights deal.

MLS will have between 23 and 31 total playoff games as eight best-of-three first-round series are contested before the conference moves to a single-elimination format in the semifinals.

Sources said the format involving group and knockout stages is now a longer shot than the best-of-three proposal as league teams do not want to end up in the group stage. It doesn’t matter which team makes it to the knockout rounds.

Sources also cautioned that none of the proposed new playoff formats have been approved. League owners need to sign off on the changes before the season opener on Feb. 25 for them to take effect in 2023.

Sources are optimistic that MLS will allow for intra-league transfers

Momentum is building for the establishment of an inter-league transfer market within MLS, some sources say athletic Such a mechanism could be introduced as soon as this summer.

Currently, MLS teams are not allowed to buy/sell players for cash to/from other MLS teams. They can trade them for allocation money, but that’s not real-world currency, just an MLS budget tool. The policy made sense during the league’s turbulent beginnings, when a few owners controlled many teams, but MLS has grown to the point where the internal market can easily be profitable. There was some concern about creating new territories where teams would have to pay training compensation to fellow MLS clubs due to internal sales. Those payments are tied to trades. There were also questions about how that would be enforced legally because all players are contracted to MLS, not specific clubs, and so it’s not technically a sale between clubs. Sources were not clear on how those questions would be answered should an inter-league transfer market be introduced.

Allowing teams to buy and sell players internally would create an additional revenue stream for selling clubs and add another mechanism to help keep talented players in the league.

Sources were not sure how the intra-league transfer market would work if one was adopted. A source expects that players who already earn more than the maximum budget fee ($651,250 in 2023) or whose new teams plan to immediately offer them contracts that take their salaries above the maximum budget fee will be eligible for intra-league transfers. The same source expected inter-league transfer fees to be factored into team budgets as in the current system. The buying team will amortize the fee and add it to the player’s salary to generate their budgeted fee, while the selling team will be able to pocket the cash or convert at least a portion of it into general allocation money.

The introduction of an intra-league transfer market was a wildly popular idea athleticAnonymous 2022 survey of MLS executives21 out of 21 executives surveyed said they wish the league would allow them.

“In most successful leagues, the most active transfer market is internal,” said one executive. “By definition, when I’m trying to sell a player, I’m cutting off a potential channel to sell. It doesn’t make sense. And it’s not just that big clubs are going to buy from smaller clubs. If a big club wants to go and get a better DP than they currently have , another club can take that (big club’s current) DP. They can say, ‘I know him, he’s in the league, and I’d rather pay to get him than go to South America and try something less certain.’ I just see so many benefits. And why wouldn’t we?”

“Yes absolutely. One hundred percent (we should have one),” added another. “I don’t get it. Why, if there is a very good player, a very good fit in the league, should he leave the league if the club cannot offer him a good deal or want to sell him? Why can’t another team buy him as a DP? Or a team like Salt Lake occupies all three DPs and they can’t make a player like (Damir) Krelach a DP and they have to sell a player but we can’t buy him. Why? Why let players walk away instead of creating a new market?”

(Photo: Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *