Good Friday morning Caps fans. The weekend is (basically) upon us and that means a break from work is in order.
The Caps face off against San Jose tomorrow, meaning a return of the emotional turmoil that comes from watching this team we share.
Rather than focusing on the Quakes, I did want to take a moment to break down and give my two cents on week one of the new Apple streaming service, which I initially was skeptical of but am starting to come around on.
If you watched the match on TSN, well, you probably can skip down to the links. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I get MLS Season Pass free due to my T-Mobile cell phone plan, meaning my feelings are not colored by having to pay $100 a year for this thing.
But in week one and the pre-season I have been very impressed with the quality of content that the teams are churning out. The Caps seem like they were a middle of the road club in terms of video content creation and they appear to have upped their game in order to comply with rigor demanded by Apple. Walking through traditions and key players is pretty basic but seems like a building block leading up to more substantive series that could help build interest in the league, like Drive to Survive has with Formula 1.
The user interface of the service still leaves a bit to be desired — accessing older matches and some of the menus need a bit of TLC but, owning Apple devices, this isn’t a problem unique to the MLS service.
When it comes to the actual broadcasts itself, I was pretty impressed — with a caveat. Weirdly, I found the Caps match last Saturday to have been the worst production wise of any that I watched. Some of the audio had issues and the presentation in the U.S. was weird with commercial breaks placed at odd times during the pre-match and halftime periods.
This might be because TSN, as much as we all loved to hate on it, was still a step up over most local broadcasts here in the states. And some of the kinks are almost certainly just growing pains — watching a handful of other matches over opening weekend, I generally thought the quality of the production (camerawork, graphics, etc.) matched more closely with the Premier League on NBC, the gold standard for soccer broadcasts, than an ESPN or Univision telecast. There is still a ways to go in terms of consistency but I was very pleasantly surprised.
The whiparound show was a nice bonus, though I think there still can be progress in terms of figuring out what they want it to be and maybe molding it to better balance looking in on matches and analysis.
It is still the early days and, of course, the real success of this venture will be measured in the number of people who subscribe. Given that most of us who are on the service right now are die hard fans (aka the real sickos), it is much too early to render a verdict. The matches appearing outside the hard paywall for Apple TV+ users will be an early way of potentially getting people to care enough to subscribe.
MLS took a big risk on this idea, betting on themselves via the deal with Apple. The marketing and presentation of the league feels like they are finally being taken seriously by a media partner — but it is now incumbent on the league and its teams to put a product out there that people would actually want to pay to watch regularly. It’ll remain fascinating to see how that plays out.
Best of the Rest
Canada Soccer has reached an interim funding agreement with the Women’s National Team — but it is not a CBA and doesn’t cover the upcoming women’s world cup
Meanwhile, Nick Bontis has resigned from the federation amid [gestures widely], though a way forward for the body remains unclear
The Whitecaps 2 MLS NEXT Pro side got more intriguing, adding college standout Gloire Amanda, SuperDraft castoff Malcom Johnston and the Caps’ own draft pick Levonte Johnson
Giannis Antetokounmpo is now a part-owner of Nashville SC, a big boon for getting my Bucks supporting buddy into MLS