So, on the one hand, this is just a funny bit of concept sketch comedy. Jason Sudekis plays Ted Lasso, a Texas-born American football coach starting a new job as the boss of Tottenham (‘TOT’NUM) Hotspur, despite being utterly clueless about the rules of proper football.
But on the other hand (or as the engineers call it, “the grasping hand,” which always struck me as at least vaguely disturbing), this is the first (or second) example of what it means when an American television network/cable empire bids $250 million over three years for the rights to broadcast English Premier League matches. Yes, they’re just marketing their overseas investment, pumping up the value of the 380 games they’ll broadcast this season — it’s just that, in the process of pimping EPL soccer, NBC marketing is bound to raise visibility and interest in soccer generally.
We’ve known this was coming since last fall, but we’re only now about to find out exactly what this means for soccer in North America. Beginning Aug. 17, we’ll have access to every EPL match, live, on broadcast television or basic cable. No more expensive “sports packages” and add-ons just to get Fox Soccer. More soccer, available to more Americans, than ever before.
What will that do for our top domestic league, with its soon-to-be-available television contract? Will it mean more interest in the Charleston Battery? More signups at the youth level? More fans at College of Charleston women’s matches this fall?
Nobody knows yet. But my bet is that the NBC EPL contract, as a lead-in to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, is about to change the North American soccer landscape in much the same way that Oprah’s first live Tweet changed Twitter.