The Sounders match at Portland on Saturday will be the first nationally telecast on NBC. Not NBCSN, but over-the-air NBC itself: network of “The Tonight Show,” “Seinfeld,” “Cheers,” etc.
Broadcaster Arlo White — who knows a thing or two about the Cascadia Cup rivalry — had this to say about the selection of this match for NBC’s MLS debut broadcast.
“It was a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned, because NBC – going into Major League Soccer for the first time – they had to show at least one Cascadia derby between Seattle and Portland,” White said this morning on a conference call with Sounders media. “… The people who select the games know exactly how bit this game is, and what great television visually and from an audio point of view, and from an on-field battling point of view, how big this game would be. So an easy decision to make, I think, once this game became available…
“For Major League Soccer (being on NBC) is absolutely enormous. It’s been a while since Major League Soccer has been able to showcase itself on national terrestrial television. NBC have a history of quality sports broadcasting. Most recently you saw that in the Olympic Games, which rated very well. It’s a tough time of year with college football on a Saturday afternoon, of course, but this is a tremendous opportunity for the league to be showcased on this platform. Aside from a Seattle home game with 67,000 potentially for the Portland home match, I don’t think there’s a better place to go than Portland for a Seattle Sounders-Portland home game. It’s hugely significant. You would expect a natural bump in the audience and hopefully when the lay sports fan flips around on a Saturday afternoon and comes across this wild noise and this terrific game is going on, they’ll stick with it. It’s going to be a long process, but it may be the first step along the way to converting a few sports fans – or even soccer fans – into Major League Soccer fans. And I think that’s vital.”