As has already been discussed RSL's TV options are limited for national audiences but that shouldn't matter too much to local audiences. However there are still some problems and limitations that really should be addressed by not only our own local TV deals, but those of the league(s) in general.
Last year I paid the 40 dollars to have the online viewing of all games. I wanted this for the RSL away games and saw it as a cheaper option than the DirectKick feed from DirecTV. Came to find out it would black out every single one of the games. The reason? It was supposedly somehow available locally. Little did I know that the 40 dollars spent would balloon. More after the jump.
For the first away game that I tried to watch at home I found out it was only being broadcast on channel 2.2, and blacked out on the MLS streaming option. This channel is not part of DirecTV in any way, shape, or form. 20 dollars for the cheapest over the air antenna I could find later... and we were watching the game in standard definition on a connection that was spotty at best (freezing, artifacts, etc).
The next problem came up when it was time for the CONCACAF games. As these are technically not MLS games I am not blaming the MLS TV deals for this problem, nor their streaming service. This is more of an example to a point I will make soon enough. As is known FSC is the only channel to get these games. $13/month later I was able to watch these and a few MLS matches. Now granted I also got GolTV and a couple other sports stations out of the package I bought. I also get quite a few EPL games on FSC itself. It was far from a total loss/waste the rest of the time.
Then came the game that was being shown on Telefutura. Certainly as not everyone speaks Spanish the streaming service has to work right? WRONG! Blacked out. What's this? I get the station that NYRB (the opponent int his game) plays on all the time? Sweet! Pre-game away! Starting line ups announced and then BAM! Blacked out! Resigned myself to find out what channel Telefutura was and just deal with having no commentary. Searched my DirecTV and it didn't exist. While frustrated with having to use the over the air antenna again I was just going to be happy to watch the game at that point. Can't find the channel. Search the internet to find out what channel it is and guess what? IT DOESN'T BROADCAST IN UT! Apparently there was some deal to buy the station that fell through or some such (sorry not too clear on the details) and now the channel doesn't exist for me to watch locally. Even the official watch party that the team itself was pimping had problems getting the game.
Ultimately an internet stream of questionable quality was found and the second half of the game was watched. MLS' support just gave me the run around, no credit would be given, and in general I was just SOL.
The point of this long winded rant is that over the course of a season I spent way more than I should have needed to just to be able to get my games. 40 for the stream that was completely useless for any of my own team's games. 20 for the over the air antenna for a station that is still behind by 5+ years when it comes to quality and 13/month for stations that are considered premium but still black out what I paid 40 dollars for. I list this out to be an example of what an extreme fan has to do to get his games. When the casual person comes along and says "oh hey I heard there's a soccer game on today, I should watch it" and runs into these problems do you think they will stick to it?
How do the league and teams expect to increase the number of viewers and create supporters for their teams when their games are so hard to access? Get the TV deal in place, show that you can provide the numbers to a network, and then start asking for outrageous amounts of money, not the other way around. Get rid of the Spanish only option (thankfully this year it's a home game for RSL). I'm afraid of getting DirectKick, not going to lie. Spending that much just to find out that the games will end up blacked out again... not good.
In the end it comes down to wanting to make money. I can respect that, it's a business, but the ridiculous things people have to go through to get the away games on TV are where the problems lie. Look long term, having a smaller tv deal on a more accessible channel might be the best thing the MLS could do for itself. Exposure is going to generate more money in the long run than trying to get 20 million out of FSC now. On the local front, can it really be that big of a hit to their normal viewer numbers on a Saturday night to put the RSL games on KSL instead 2.2? You're going to get the fans no matter what plus you might just find more people will watch when it's more readily available to them and in front of their faces.