The Philadelphia Union just announced that Channel 6 (WPVI) will be its local TV broadcaster this season.
While the season schedule has not been released yet, a joint statement by the team and the station says that Philadelphia's ABC affiliate has a "commitment" to air "as many Philadelphia Union games as possible to be carried live on 6abc."
In addition, all games will be re-broadcast on 6abc’s digital channel 6.2, which is available over the air if you have a digital TV set. It is channel 245 on Comcast, but it's not available on satellite dishes.
As I noted yesterday, ABC is also broadcasting the World Cup, and has been the network home of soccer in the United States for quite a while now.
"The opportunity to partner with not only one of the best television stations in the nation, but one of the most respected brands in the Delaware Valley, is something very special and meaningful to us as an organization," Union president Tom Veit said.
“There is a definite buzz about the Union soccer club, and 6abc is thrilled to be their broadcast partner,” said Bernie Prazenica, Channel 6's president & general manager. “We believe the MLS will be a great success in the Delaware Valley, both on the field and in the community, and we’re excited to present this new team to our loyal viewers.”
A few more words from Veit, who I talked to this afternoon...
I put the question to Veit directly: will all of the team's games this season be televised?
"Yes," he answered.
That isn't the case with some teams in Major League Soccer. The combination of local and national broadcasts doesn't always cover every game, though games not televised are streamed on the league's website.
"We don't expect 6abc will be preempting 'Lost' for us," Veit said. "We think there will be a siginficant number of games placed on 6abc and i think that's their goal as well."
I asked whether there's a rights fee involved in the Union's deal, or whether the team is paying for the air time.
"We're not going to release financial terms of the agreement - it's a partnership, there's many different levels to it," Veit said. "It is a partrnership that we both believe that the Philadelphia Union and 6abc will be able to benefit from financially and we're very pleased with it."
Veit did add a few more details after he told me that the team plans to produce all of its broadcasts in high definition.
"Which is a huge cash commitment for us - production-wise it's probably 50 to 60 percent higher [cost] to do games in HD," he said, "It's going to be a money-maker for us because of sponsorships and all that."
I also asked whethere there will be a deal to broadcast games in Spanish for the region's growing Hispanic community.
"We're working on it - there could be some possibilities for an SAP broadcast," Veit said. "We do want to service our Hispanic fans as well. There's nothing immminent right now, but it's an area that we defwintely want to work on."