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Volume 23 No. 8
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USL will wrap video efforts into new USL Productions

Aiming to boost its profile and embrace the digital space, the USL is creating a stand-alone division that will encompass all aspects of the league’s video production, including that of its clubs at the RSN level.

The third-tier soccer league will roll out that division, called USL Productions, starting with its 2017 season. The league is developing a broadcast center that will allow it to produce and broadcast all of its clubs’ games out of one location, as well as create and distribute additional content, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The league made a multimillion-dollar investment in the initiative, said Tom Veit, USL executive vice president and CMO, who’ll oversee the division.

“We have a clean slate from a broadcasting perspective, and now we want to take advantage of it building around our content, and then creating the distribution streams for it,” he said.

Vista Worldlink is working with the league on the technical side, assisting in efforts including archiving. Michael Cohen, former executive producer for MLS, has been hired as a consultant. The league is also working with Repucom on ways to monetize these efforts.

USL Productions’ goal will be to create content as brief as 10 seconds up to two-plus hours of live match coverage for use digitally, socially and, as Veit puts it, “if there’s someone out there wanting to find a USL game, they can find it.” It will also build out a video library that can contribute to any linear or digital broadcast instantly.

The division will also be capable of taking on all elements of producing live game coverage, recaps and shoulder programming, distributing for all of its teams locally, regionally across RSNs, digitally and nationally.

Veit said the league will not automatically take over production of every team’s broadcast, especially in the case of those that have good local broadcast deals already. Rather, he said, the introduction of this division is “about creating a floor, as well as providing consistency and also providing this enormous bucket of content that we’re going to pool together.”

Most of the league’s teams now rely on its YouTube broadcast to get their games out to fans. The league presents all games live and in HD digitally on its website.

The league has signed a partnership with ESPN for this season that includes broadcasting 20 games across the ESPN3 platform, as well as content distribution across ESPNFC and WatchESPN.

The USL will not be negotiating local deals on behalf of teams, but Veit said the league would advise its clubs and their staff in regards to production and any broadcast efforts.