Commentary

Soccer, The Beautiful Game, Gets An App That Plays To That

The L.A. Galaxy, the Major League Soccer team out there, has become the first in its league to start an HD video app, which has bowed, pretty silently, today. Not a lot of hoopla.

At a time that “mobile first” is a mantra, you shouldn’t go looking for smartphone app. There isn’t one, and there’s not one one coming.

“It’s just not a space we’re interested in,” said Richard Gilliam, the CEO of DeskSite, which already has up and running apps, partnering with 20 NFL teams and several NHL teams, and is branching out to fast-growing soccer with its hometown team. 

Like the new Galaxy DeskSite, the material is available on desktops, laptops, tablets, game consoles, Blu-ray players, and smart TVs. “We consider it a big screen app.”

DeskSite is comfortable there, and  sees itself more as a “DVR for the Internet” and though that analogy isn’t quite exact, it’s pretty close.

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It uses a fairly rare pitch--the beauty of the big screen Internet feed. Not many online content providers talk about their HD picture; DeskSite does.

But there are some other features. Videos are downloaded and stored to users’ devices so that a user can access content without being online. Users can arrange for audiovisual alerts so that they’ll know when new material is out there. You can fast forward and rewind and all that stuff, easier than an ordinary video site.

The Galaxy already has a Web site with video--much of it the same video the DeskSite will feature--and Major League Soccer has its own site, MLSsoccer.com, too, with more video.

But DeskSite has the ability to sell advertising, and equipped with targeting data, advertisers can find the exact audience member they’re looking for, unlike television commercials.

Also unlike the other sports sites, Galaxy DeskSite can be uniquely useful to advertisers looking for Hispanic viewers, and can reach them in either English or Spanish. With soccer’s appeal among Hispanics, and the huge Hispanic population in the Los Angeles area, that could end up being a big category.

DeskSite sells the ads and Gillam says loads are controlled; its NFL channels boast a low 10% ad-to-content ratio and that will be the same with Galaxy DeskSite, too.

All the existing sites offer what you’d expect: Talk shows about the teams, feature pieces on players; team history videos and game highlights with whatever time constraints participating leagues demand.

The Galaxy’s Brendan Hannan, senior director of communications and digital, says it will provide up to 350 clips a month and boasts that its existing Website already has the most uniques in the league.

Gilllam says Galaxy-produced video “is some of the best in the MLS. It’s gorgeous.”

World Soccer Talk.com ranks the Galaxy as the second-most-popular team in the MLS, to the Seattle Sounders, based on a working of Google Trends data from 2012-2014. But even that survey notes that for one week (July 20-27) in 2014, the Galaxy’s combination of Google searches for all-things-Galaxy set the high mark that created the top end of the scale for the study.

Last year, the Galaxy was third in attendance with about 21,000 per match. (Number one, Seattle, with an average of 43,000, was, as they say, off the charts.)

Fans are rabid, even the most casual soccer fan knows. Gillam says, though, that, “If you’re a casual fan, this is not for you. For real fans, we say, ‘It’s nothing that you don’t want.’” 

pj@mediapost.com

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