MLS Crew Execs Forced To Respond To Fan Backlash Over Team's New Media-Rights Deal
MLS Crew President & GM Mark McCullers on Saturday in an open letter on the team's website "apologized for fans' frustrations" with the franchise's new TV deal with Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, according to Daniel Karell of SOCCERBYIVES.net. Crew Chair Anthony Precourt "also reached out on Twitter to explain why the club decided" to sign the deal. Under the new deal, 33 of the Crew's 34 matches this season "will be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, which is only offered to Time Warner Cable subscribers." While that "might not be something to gripe about, anyone living within 75 miles of Crew Stadium will find Crew matches, both home and away, blacked out on MLS’ internet streaming subscription, MLS Live." McCullers in the letter wrote that one of the "main reasons for the Crew moving forward with Time Warner Cable was because the company would make the Crew a priority," something that Fox Sports Ohio -- the team's prior media partner -- "apparently did not do." Both Precourt and McCullers also revealed that the club "will in fact be losing money in this deal, and that it was not a financially motivated move, which some fans were suggesting." McCullers wrote, "We will be investing over $500,000 to produce, air, and promote Crew matches in 2014, which far outweighs our return" (SOCCERBYIVES.net, 3/8). In Columbus, Ray Stein wrote under the header, "Fan Completely Turned Off By Crew's Television Deal." Stein: "This is one of the most baffling business decisions I’ve heard of -- and the blackout policy makes it a double kick in the gut" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/9).