Bundesliga to ESPN: Game Changer?
We’re told American “soccer” fans love the Premier League. Why? Presumably the common language and ties to the old country.The Premier League or the mid to late 1990s was exciting stuff, with back and forth play coupled with lots of goals. Today the Premier League has a clear tier system and lower tier teams will hardly ever play higher tier teams straight up. English Football fans are rediscovering the lower leagues in droves thanks to this negative tactical setup.
I personally think the German Bundesliga, once a great bore has emerged as Europe’s most watchable league on TV. The Bundesliga features end to end football with some very poor defending at times, but also a great level of skill.
Yesterday, the NY Times reported that ESPN has acquired some Bundesliga games for the next three seasons via sub license with GOLTV. This is outstanding news, as German football is probably more attractive to the average American sports fan than any other league in the world. Packed large stadiums, vibrent colors and attacking football equal a winner. La Liga may have all the star power while the Premier League dominates the English language press, but now the Bundesliga has its own trump card.
If ESPN were wise, they’d try and sell the German League to mainstream sports fans in a more aggressive fashion than La Liga. Sure Spain has Kaka, Messi and Ronaldo, but Germany has packed stadiums (ala American College Football) and more goals than other league. The league is also more competitive resembling American sports, where champions or championship contenders are not pre ordained.
ESPN’s marketing of the Bundesliga will be interesting. Since the emergence of the English league early this decade, the previous “big five or six” in Europe has become a “big three” with the Bundesliga often out of thje discussion. ESPN in the United States can help reshape that discussion and also allow new fans to find the sport.