On a day overshadowed by shameful behavior among the leaders of the world's biggest game, some good news transpired for the NASL and their most popular team - national television exposure.
The New York Cosmos will be spreading some American love to Havana, Cuba through a display of sports diplomacy by competing against the Cuban men's national soccer team in an exhibition matchup on Tuesday. The game will be produced by One World Sports, an international sports network which shares common ownership with the Cosmos. Sports Video Group recently covered the small network's buildup to the big game and mentioned how OWS has used ESPN's expertise to better prepare themselves:
The match marks the first-ever live sports production involving a U.S. team and originating out of Cuba to be produced in HD and the first of any kind since ESPN produced a U.S.-Cuba FIFA World Cup qualifier in SD in 2008. As a result, ESPN was one of One World Sports’ first calls when it came to coordinating production facilities in Havana.
“Our colleagues at ESPN were very helpful, and they walked us through some of the challenges they had,” says Feld. “We thought from the beginning that we would have to put a truck on a boat from the States or somewhere else or figure a flypack and build the facilities from scratch.”This partnership has now extended into a simulcast on the ESPN family of networks. The English-language broadcast airing on OWS will be simulcasted live to a much wider audience than OWS reaches through ESPN2 and ESPN3. ESPN Deportes will also use OWS's video feed to provide fans with the action but they'll enlist their own troupe of broadcasters for the Spanish-language version.
ESPN will also increase the exposure of this game to its audience through reports and analysis on SportsCenter before the match. This should come as no surprise since ESPN3 already has a deal with NASL to carry 1 game each week and it helps the league gain some prestige despite their connection with FIFA's corruption scandal (Traffic Sports, a marketing company which owns part of the league, has been charged with not negotiating soccer TV deals in good faith).
The game's much broader reach will also expose many American sports fans to One World Sports for the first time. A good quality performance in producing this game may be enough to convince cable operators to carry the network for their subscribers to access in the future. JP Dellacamera will be calling the exhibition and is a top notch soccer announcer who used to call World Cup and MLS game for the Worldwide Leader and he will definitely give a solid performance.
It might also doom them if something goes wrong on-air or if an operator questions the act of simulcasting the network's big ticket events on another channel.
OWS has already set a precedent of simulcasting their high demand matchups on channels with bigger audiences when they aired Yankees' player Mashiro Tanaka's Japanese professional baseball league games on the YES Network. Will an operator want to pay a carriage fee if their valued programming will already be available anyway?
Expect a feature piece from OWS at halftime which will disseminate soccer's current impact in Havana as well as a documentary covering the Cosmos' journey to Cuba which will air exclusively on OWS, according to Sports Video Group. Overall, it will be a great day for US/Cuba relations, One World Sports and soccer. It also shows ESPN's continuing commitment to soccer despite losing World Cup rights to Fox Sports, who will begin their own journey with FIFA in the next few weeks with the Women's World Cup.