On Thursday, Major League Soccer made their Chief Marketing Officer, Howard Handler available for an AMA on Reddit. For those not familiar, an AMA is essentially an open online interview where any person can submit a question, and the person being interviewed can select which questions he/she will answer. Reddit AMA’s have gained mainstream popularity recently, with prominent figures such as Bill Gates and Barack Obama participating.
Redditors asked a variety of challenging questions, and Handler delivered honest, transparent answers. The questions that Handler did not answer are equally as interesting.
Check out some of the best questions and answers after the jump.
Reddit: What types of new programming can MLS fans expect from NBCSN and ESPN outside of shoulder programming this season?
Handler: Stay tuned for a whole new batch of MLS 36′s, MLS Breakaway this Saturday, and a bunch of exciting new shows in the development queue.
Reddit: From your standpoint, how does marketing in MLS differ from the other major sports in the United States? Also, how do things like the KickTV YouTube channel and the new story-focused website redesign contribute to marketing efforts for our (relatively) young league?
Handler: Soccer is a global sport and North American fans have access to every league and big name club in the world. We’re working hard to connect people to our League, the Clubs right there in their communities and to win their hearts and minds. The territories of other brands I’ve managed and the competition has been much more straight forward. But digital and the greater availability of data levels the playing field for everyone, and we punch well above our weight in how we try to engage with our fans.
Reddit: With MLS geared toward the younger demographic of adults, how plausible is it, in your opinion, for a deal to be reached where a major online streaming company (YouTube, for example) secures “broadcast” rights for nationally televised games?
Handler: Anything is possible in the dynamic asymmetrical world of media. We’re exploring all avenues. On YouTube in particular, we’ve built a great platform in youtube.com/KICKTV, we’re approaching 400,000 subscribers and breaking new ground with digital content all the time. Game broadcasts get consumed across multiple screens today, so the broadcast rights picture, how we partner, who we ultimately work with, could really be interesting, we’ll see.
Reddit: Being a soccer fan in Orlando, Florida, and a fan of the Orlando City Soccer Club (lions), I was wondering what are the possibilities that we are awarded the next franchise spot? I love watching MLS matches, and hope to see them come to the city beautiful. Also, what other potential markets/teams are in the run with Orlando for the next Franchise?
Handler: We’re focused heavily on establishing a second team in New York, Flushing Meadows Corona Park in particular. We continue to have productive conversations with potential owners in Orlando, Miami, Atlanta and Minneapolis. We love the enthusiasm in Orlando, you guys are amazing fans.
Reddit: With the increasing profile of the league and soccer’s rise in America, new publications (XI Quarterly, Howler Magazine) have aimed to take hold of a burgeoning North American market.
Is there a way to engage the MLS audience with media and publications similar to those mentioned to broaden the intelligence of the fan bases?
Handler: Right on, I love Howler, XI Quarterly, Men in Blazers and some of the more lifestyle oriented, ‘voicey’ outlets for North American soccer coverage. In fact, we are moments away from introducing Overlap, our new iPad magazine app. Produced by George Quraishi (Howler Magazine) in conjunction with MLS Digital, we’re breaking some new ground working with big named writers like George Vescey, and higher-end illustrators, and art directors. The cover subject is Graham Zusi of Sporting KC. You can download it when it hits the Apple store, seriously within days. You’ll love it.