TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League has announced the creation of USL Productions, a standalone division of the League that will be the exclusive and premier producer/provider of all USL content across all linear and digital platforms. USL Productions will serve as a one-stop shop in developing standardized, high-quality and broadcast network-level production values for USL content using the latest in media technology.
Several years in the making, USL Productions will debut in 2017 and meets two of the League’s primary goals – investing in the USL for long-term growth and success while serving as the foundation of the League’s digital-first strategy.
“At the USL, we are dedicated to building a sustainable future for our team owners, partners, players and the communities we serve,” said Alec Papadakis, Chief Executive Officer of the USL. “Six years ago, the USL embarked on a mission to create the most sophisticated, best operated and most competitive soccer league under MLS. Now that this mission has unequivocally been achieved we are setting our sights on USL Productions, an elite, high-quality broadcast and digital unit for USL content using the latest media technology.
“USL Productions is designed to enhance franchise values, increase team revenues and serve as a marketing and digital activation platform to create significant integrated sponsorship opportunities by releasing the combined commercial power of all our teams,” continued Papadakis.
USL Productions was developed in consultation with some of the top minds in the broadcasting, digital strategy and content creation world, making the USL one of the few professional sports leagues to build out a fully-fledged production unit in the digital age with a digital-first strategy. The League’s overall goal is to become the preeminent distributor of soccer content.
Each and every USL regular-season and post-season game, pre- and post-game coverage, features and ancillary programming will be produced, digitized and distributed by USL Productions for use by League teams as well as local, regional, national and international linear and digital partners.
“Quality live content is essential to our continued growth and USL Productions will be committed to meet and exceed the demands of our ever-growing supporter base in this digital age,” said Jake Edwards, President of the USL. “We are acutely aware of the role millennials are playing in our sport, so the USL’s digital-first strategy will feed the appetite of those who are equally driven by digital consumption and engagement.”
Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
Key highlights of USL Productions:
Through its partnership with VISTA Worldlink, USL Productions will pioneer remote integration digital technology allowing for centralized match production, with the ability to broadcast up to seven matches at once as well as local and national programming.
USL Productions will build out an innovative and fully-operational broadcast center at VISTA with a master control room connected to each club’s stadium with the ability to produce each and every USL game on a weekly basis. The broadcast center will use cutting edge technology to take advantage of and communicate with the digital world via social, digital and traditional channels.
USL Productions will produce more than 1,000 hours of live USL match coverage in 2017, in addition to ancillary programming that will give the League the ability to produce content as brief as 10 seconds in length to up to 2-plus hours of live match coverage for use digitally and socially through all current and potential media platforms.
USL Productions will create and distribute compelling short and long form content using the latest technology, and broadcast network standards to deliver high-quality, HD content digitally to local, regional and national outlets, as well as international points around the globe.
USL Productions will have the ability to feed USL-themed content terrestrially to any known or emerging video device, with the league’s summer schedule providing customized content globally at a time of year where there is limited soccer inventory.
USL Productions will build out a digital library to feed and contribute to any broadcast – linear or digital – on a moment’s notice. The digital library will allow USL Productions to digitize, protect, store and manage the League’s historical video.
USL Productions will allow its corporate partners to reach its targets in new and innovative ways to satisfy the public’s insatiable appetite for soccer content.
USL Productions is a partnership with VISTA Worldlink, a global leader in transmission services including satellite capacity, mobile and fixed uplinks, fiber optics, streaming, digital archiving and master control services in addition to cutting edge creative, emerging and production services. VISTA Worldlink is a full-service media bridge connecting world-class customer service to the sports (leagues, conferences, teams and networks), entertainment and news industries worldwide.
The USL’s long-time Executive Media Consultant Michael Cohen, a 15-time Emmy Award nominee, and eight-time Emmy Award winner, will work on every facet of USL Productions to offer supporters a world-class viewing and engagement experience. He brings the USL deep broadcasting and content experience including the start-up of Major League Soccer/Soccer United Marketing’s broadcasting department, nine Olympic Games and three FIFA World Cups.
“USL Productions will be headed by our Tom Veit, an experienced sports marketing executive with MLS and WWE experience,” said Papadakis. “Surrounding Tom is a team of distinguished experts in the commercial and broadcasting industries from Repucom, Vista and award-winning soccer producer Michael Cohen.”
The USL is currently presenting all of its games, live and in HD, digitally via the Match Center on the League’s new website, www.USLSoccer.com. Last week, the USL announced a multi-faceted digital partnership with ESPN, The Worldwide Leader in Sports, which includes both linear and digital platforms.