SBJ/May 28 - June 3, 2007/This Weeks News

MLS makes deal with YouTube for dedicated channel

Major League Soccer is expected to unveil a dedicated YouTube channel this week after agreeing to a revenue-sharing partnership with the online entity.

The agreement makes the league the third sports property to align with the popular video-sharing site in the last year. The NHL and NBA struck similar deals and have collected almost 16,000 and more than 12,000 subscribers, respectively, for their channels. Subscribers get video from a channel automatically loaded into their YouTube accounts.

Fans on YouTube
How select YouTube channels compare

YouTube rank*
No. of subscribers*

* As of May 23
Source: YouTube

The YouTube deal marks MLS’s first major step into the digital world. Unlike properties like the NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB, it has not put a major emphasis on digital content and runs its Web site through a partnership with MLB Advanced Media. Enhancing its digital presence is a focus of its board of governors this year.

MLS will control and manage its YouTube channel, overseeing the design, videos and images featured. All of the video content, including any user-generated content submitted by site subscribers, will be owned and copyrighted by the league.

Though videos will be the focus of the site, it will also feature player Web logs, player-selected videos, promotions and user-generated-video contests.

Financial terms of MLS’s YouTube deal weren’t disclosed, but like the other leagues, its agreement is based on revenue sharing, and league officials do not see it as a major new revenue stream.

“We see it as an opportunity to gain additional exposure for the league and its players,” said MLS President Mark Abbott. “We think it can be an excellent platform for promotion of the league and the league’s Web site.”

YouTube channels can be monetized through a variety of means, including splitting the profits from any advertisements placed on the site, league officials said. Those advertisers, however, cannot be direct competitors of any MLS sponsors.

The site may also provide MLS with new digital inventory.

The league is exploring the possibility of working its corporate partners into the site by having them sponsor user-generated-video contests such as an amateur “Best Bicycle Kick” contest.

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