As we learned yesterday, Orlando City SC has announced a statewide TV deal with FOX Sports Florida and Sun Sports to broadcast games across Florida. On the surface, this is very good for the team. Not only are all games broadcast locally, but now fans from all over the state can tune in to locally broadcast games and follow their Lions from home.
However, when you dig a bit deeper, there are parts of this new deal that create a lot of waves for the future of soccer in the state of Florida.
First off, according to multiple sources, both FOX Sports Florida and Sun Sports will have little part in the actual production of the games. FOX 35 and My65 will be doing everything when it comes to the production broadcast for the games. All FOX Sports Florida and Sun Sports are doing is taking the feed and simulcasting it on their channel. This means that all the pre-game and post-game production will be dealt with by the local people.
This little tidbit is nothing compared to the the impact that this deal will have to the future of soccer in Florida. Within the press release that the club sent out, three key words stood out, "multi-year deal." This is a big deal for multiple reasons. It means that the networks of FOX and its sports partners are fully backing Orlando City as the soccer team in Florida.
This also looms bad for a prospective team down south in David Beckham's Miami franchise. The fact that FSF and Sun Sports have signed a multi-year deal makes it seem that the television broadcasters have considerable doubts that "Miami FC" is even going to happen. So, instead of taking a risk and waiting, they have fully embraced Orlando City as "Florida's Soccer Team."
This deal is also something that doesn't happen very often, in terms of statewide broadcasting. For example, take the Orlando Magic. Their games are broadcast on FOX Sports Florida, however it is only within the Orlando Metropolitan area. You can't watch Magic games down in Miami, nor up in Tallahassee.
At the same time, you can't turn on Sun Sports in Orlando and watch a Miami Heat game. Those games are restricted to Miami and its outlying areas. In fact, I'm not aware of too many current MLS teams that have this kind of deal that Orlando has. To put that all in perspective, this is a really big deal.
All in all, Orlando City has made tons of strides to become the "Soccer Capital of the South" and yesterday they took a giant leap towards that goal. By the end of the season, the entire state of Florida will be glowing with purple pride. I guarantee you that.