On Friday we visited the MLS offices to hear from several speakers, including Ramin Tabib, Vice President of Strategic Planning for the MLS and Charles Altchek, Special Assistant to the Commissioner. This field trip was one of my favorites this summer – not only because of the exciting growth the MLS is currently experiencing in its 20th season, but because the majority of the work I have been doing at my internship has focused on the MLS as well.
“This field trip was one of my favorites this summer…”
Learning about MLS marketing and fan engagement strategies was extremely pertinent to the research I’m conducting during my internship at Bloomberg Sports. Ramin said that in the league’s 20th season, the MLS is at the ascending part of its growth curve, which is reflected by its new TV deals, increasing attendance rates, and league expansion. He emphasized the importance of growing commercial business with an increased fan base, and thus elaborated on some of his roles pertaining to strategic planning. He identified one of the primary issues the MLS deals with as bringing casual soccer fans to MLS platforms. While the fan base is growing in both size and passion, the consumers still tend to visit websites such as ESPN to obtain MLS coverage.
Ramin has countered this problem with an increased social media presence. Utilizing apps, such as Snapchat, to cover rivalry week games has helped draw fans to their mobile platforms. Furthermore, the MLS website is posting more video content than ever before, with over 600 hours of content published this year. Employing the digital space to connect with fans is an approach nearly every league is adopting, for it provides an authentic form of communication between the league and the fans, specifically the millennials, which is the MLS’s strongest fan base. The MLS hopes that by 2022 they will be one of the premier soccer leagues in the world, and hopefully one of the premier sports leagues in the US as well.