A common topic of discussion on social networks and forums by RSL Fans is the lack of national media coverage that our beloved Claret-and-Cobalt receives. Fans in general feel wronged by a lack of interest in our club from the larger national media outlets. Of course, these type of sentiments are not uncommon among any fan base.
Yet it is interesting that one of the most successful and consistent MLS teams in the last 3 years is often shunned by mainstream media. The possession filled attacking brand of soccer that Real Salt Lake plays is considered by many influential soccer types in the US to be one of the truest and most visually appealing forms of the beautiful game. Most of these same consider RSL to play this style of soccer perhaps better than any other team in the league.
Real has made tremendous progress in expanding their fan base over the past 4 to 5 years. Based on the below article in the SL Tribune, ticket sales are on a rise in a big way for RSL this year and have consistently grown at an impressive clip since the opening of Rio Tinto Stadium.
As someone who closely monitors the traffic of this blog, I am surprised daily with the amount of visits we receive from RSL fans around the US but even more surprised with the amount of visits we receive from international locations such as England, Europe, Africa, The Orient, and Central and South America, to name a few.
It would seem that Real Salt Lake has cultivated a fan base large enough for consideration from the national media. However, they consistently instead opt to televise and cover large market teams with star studded, ego laden rosters, the likes of the LA Galaxy and the NY Red bulls.
According to a study I read several weeks ago, Salt Lake is currently the smallest MLS market. However, from my observations, in terms of loyalty, only a few other clubs in the league rival the RSL fan base.
The reality is that the national media outlets are going to cover what they feel will bring them the best ratings and therefore the highest return on investment. Sadly it would seem that the average MLS fan prefers shallow super stardom to attractive soccer played by hard workings guys who believe “the team is the star”. Personally I am turned off by the bloated prima donna super egos of players like David Beckham and much prefer to watch down to earth hard working athletes succeed at their craft. Honestly, I don’t even comprehend the alternate opinion.
Despite all of this, RSL landed their first nationally televised match in the 2012 MLS season against the Union on NBC Sports on August 24th. While hard to find the exact numbers of viewers for the event the same SL Tribune article above suggests that the last 8 MLS matches on NBC Sports have averaged a viewership of about 200,000. While not an overly impressive number it does represent nearly a 100% increase in MLS viewership compared to the 2011 season, which is an impressive trend.
According to the article the local TV coverage of the RSL games on ABC 4 and CW 30 see similar ratings.
So how did the Claret-and-Cobalt do in their 2012 national TV debut? Unfortunately RSL did not make a huge case in favor of their battle for more TV coverage. Due to match congestion in the weeks leading up to the event, which included international caps for 4 RSL players, international travel, MLS matches and a CONCACAF match, RSL entered the fixture considerably fatigued.
Real Salt Lake was unable to put together but few impressive moments of the beautiful soccer they normally play. In fact all around the match was a very ugly display of soccer for both teams and was in serious lack of attractive build up and attacking. The match would end with a fitting and unimpressive score line of 0 – 0.
Fortunately, Real has a chance to redeem themselves in two more matches this season that will be televised on NBC Sports. RSL will face Portland at home on September 22nd and LA away on October 6th with coverage of both matches on NBC Sports.
It is my hope that we will see the RSL brand of soccer that we all love to watch in those matches and that the club will gain new fans as a result. I hope that the home match environment alone and the “Believe” attitude will inspire others to join our ranks. I also hope that the national media outlets will realize that ReAL soccer is intriguing, attractive and marketable and will reflect these realizations with additional media coverage in the 2013 season.
So be sure to bring your absolute best to the September 22nd match! Be early, be loud, be proud and believe for we are at war to gain new RSL fans that demand national TV coverage of their club!
Real Salt Lake next faces DC United at home on September 1 at 7:00 PM. Be sure to get your tickets now for Saturday’s sold out match.
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