In a move that was sent to season ticket holders late last week, FC Dallas officially announced a landmark deal with Time Warner Cable.
FRISCO - FC Dallas and Time Warner Cable have agreed to the most extensive television broadcast deal in the club's 18-year history in advance of the 2013 season.
This season Time Warner Cable SportsChannel will air 22 FC Dallas regular-season games. In Dallas, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel is available on channel 185 (SD) and channel 148 (HD). Check local listings for areas outside of Dallas.
"We are excited to have a television partner who believes in soccer and shares our passion and commitment for growing the FCD brand and our sport," said Hunt Sports Group Vice President Dan Hunt. "We believe Time Warner Cable is the right partner for us and have signed a deal with the intent on growing this into a long-term partnership."
The new partnership will not only provide a higher broadcast production quality with all games in HD, it will also allow FC Dallas to travel its broadcast team to all 17 road games and provide fans with additional in-depth programming about FC Dallas. Among the extended FC Dallas programming available this season and in the future will be pre- and post-game shows, dedicated programming about FC Dallas, and FC Dallas programming within other Time Warner Cable SportsChannel shows.
"FC Dallas games are an outstanding addition to Time Warner Cable SportsChannel's expanding local sports offering and we're excited to partner with them to televise games this season," said Mark Shuken, Senior Vice President and General Manager, TWC Sports Regional Networks. "FC Dallas fans are very passionate and Time Warner Cable SportsChannel will be able to give them more access to their favorite team."
Last season's popular play-by-play man Mark Followill will return to call most of the games, with 1310 The Ticket's Bob Sturm joining the broadcast team to handle play-by-play duties for the others. National analyst and former MLS star Brian Dunseth will also return to provide color analysis, along with Dante Washington and Steve Jolley.
Direct Kick will still be available for fans in non-Time Warner Cable service areas and MLS Live will be available market-wide. KTXA 21 will air five games, while the remaining seven games will be nationally televised on either ESPN, ESPN2, or NBC Sports Network. Azteca America will also continue to air tape-delayed Spanish broadcasts of games.
Time Warner Cable and FC Dallas are working together to unveil a special TWC offer for FC Dallas fans in the coming weeks.
There are absolutely winners and losers in this TV deal, but I think overall it will end up being a huge positive for the club.
-FC Dallas: While the club had to assume practically all the production costs in the past, TWC is now investing a ton into this, saving the club what I've heard is in the hundreds of thousands. They have a signature broadcast partner rather than someone who they basically have to pay to be broadcast on. Remember the Vancouver game last year that was relegated to a 1230am broadcast due to Rangers?
-Time Warner: I've also heard that they've been pursuing FC Dallas for quite some time and are very very excited about this. Would you rather have a TV partner that wants you or one that you have to pay to show?
-TWC Subscribers: I'm biased because I subscribe to TWC, but I'd heard that if Dallas had stayed with FSN SW, all but a handful of the games would've been relegated to the FS Southwest Plus channel which was non-HD and practically impossible to find.
-Content: Pre and Post game shows, announcers on-site, dedicated programming and all games in HD? Bingo
-Early season production: I will admit a lot of trepidation on how the broadcasts will look early in the season. A ton depends on the model they use. The TWC productions of Dallas Cup and Sidekicks games aren't even close to the values we've seen from most MLS games, but on the other hand I get the TWC sports channel from LA that has the Lakers/Galaxy and I watched an LA Galaxy preseason game on there last week. The values were VERY strong and well beyond what weve seen from FSSW.
-Non-TWC subscribers: The most obvious one. If you live in DFW and don't subscribe to Time Warner, it doesn't look like you'll get those games on your TV, rather having to either change cable providers or subscribe to the MLS Matchday Live online package.
-Public Perception: No matter how good the production is, the public perception in Dallas is that the major sports are on FS Southwest. While Time Warner in LA was able to grab the Lakers which obviously raises their profile exponentially, in Dallas it's not quite the same. When you look in the paper and see that the game is on TWC Sports channel you think, huh? The flip side of that, however, is that FCD instantly becomes their most important property which is a good thing.
There are going to be people that really, really don't like this deal and I think it's pretty understandable, but when you look at it from the club's perspective, it makes a lot of sense. TWC had been pursuing FCD for quite some time and with only a handful of games broadcast on the actual FS Southwest as a possibility, now was the time to pull the trigger. If TWC can up the production values, it turns into a great deal for both sides that does leave some out in the cold.