Stopping The Slide: New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United Match Preview

The New York Red Bulls have hit a rough patch and are winless in their last three matches. The team has a chance to stop the slide in their upcoming match on Saturday night with the rival D.C. United.


This game is the definition of a “get right” game for New York, as they are coming off probably their worst loss in a long time, dropping a 3-2 decision to Chivas USA, the worst team in the Western Conference, last weekend.


Chivas USA had not won in 19 matches, and had not scored more than one goal in a game since April 27th, so for the Red Bulls to allow 3 goals to that team, it was a pretty lousy performance out in Southern California. It resulted in Red Bulls Head Coach Mike Petke issuing a public apology to the fans for the poor performance of his team (


Then, leading up to this game against D.C., the story circulated around the media that Petke and Red Bulls team captain, Thierry Henry, had a heated argument during practice on Thursday and had to be physically separated by the assistant coaches (


This is not uncommon for a team with sky high expectations and one of the best records in the entire league, to have some dissention internally during a bad stretch of games. In fact, The Daily News, did a story on how Mike Petke truly embodied a New Yorker for confronting a world class player like Thierry Henry, and not cowering to him like other Red Bulls coaches have done in the past.


On a personal note, Petke was my favorite player on the old MetroStars teams, and I think his hard edge, intensity, and passion is the perfect combination for a Head Coach of this group of players.


Match Preview


The match against the D.C. United on Saturday night will air on the NBC Sports Network at 8 PM (EST) and is a feature game for MLS this weekend.


The United come into the game with a record of 3-17-5 and have the lowest point total in all of the MLS. The team from the capital city has a 1-6-2 record in their last 8 games and is 0-9-3 on the road this season ( They are coming off a 1-1 tie with Toronto FC last Saturday at RFK Stadium.


The players to watch for the D.C. United are: Luis Silva, Dwayne DeRosario, Bill Hamid, and Nick DeLeon.


Silva and DeRosario are the two key players for D.C. to make their offense work. DeRosario is a very difficult player to guard and defend when the United midfield can get him the ball up front into open space.


Bill Hamid, the goalkeeper for the United, played very well in the first meeting between these two teams which ended in 0-0 draw. He will need to replicate that performance for D.C. to have a chance to keep this game competitive.


I added DeLeon to the list because of the other injuries in the United midfield ranks at this point. He needs to step up and provide a strong performance in this game for his team to have a chance to win.


This is the last game in the season series between the two teams with the before mentioned 0-0 draw and a 2-0 Red Bulls victory the results of the prior meetings. The two teams compete for the Atlantic Cup which the Red Bulls will capture on Saturday night with either a win or a tie in this match (


The New York Red Bulls come into the match with a record of 11-9-6, they are winless in their last 3 matches, and they trail Montreal by 2 points for first place in the Eastern Conference, so this is an important match for them.


The players to watch on the Red Bulls are: Luis Robles, Jonny Steele, Kosuke Kimura, Jamison Olave, Thierry Henry, and Tim Cahill.


The New York goalkeeper, Luis Robles, needs to bounce back with a good performance in this match after giving up 3 goals to the offensively challenged Chivas USA side last weekend. His play in this match is going to be key in the results.


Kimura and Olave will be relied on defensively to mark up against the top United offensive players. Their play in the defensive third in slowing those attacking runs is going to be critical to the Red Bulls strategy to win this match.




This is a match that, on paper, looks like it would favor the Red Bulls especially coming off the loss to Chivas USA. However, this is traditionally one of the most deep seeded rivalries in the MLS between New York and D.C., and the United will be prepared. The team from D.C. would like nothing more than to come into the Red Bull Arena on Saturday night in a national cable televised game and defeat the Red Bulls.


In the end analysis, I think the Red Bulls will come out focused and prepared, they play very well on their home field, and I think they will get the victory by the score of 3-1. It should be an exciting match and it is a crucial game for the Red Bulls to stop this slide of losing games to keep themselves in the mix for home field advantage in the MLS playoffs.






Current Marketing Trends in Broadcast Television

I spent some time over the past few nights catching up on the hit summer TV series “Under the Dome”, thanks to the Amazon Instant Video service. This series, based on the book by Stephen King, has been a huge success for CBS, and according to the Nielsen ratings, it is the number one scripted TV series this summer.


So I began to think as I watched the various characters from “Under the Dome” such as Barbie, “Big Jim”, Angie, Norrie, and Junior: what makes this show a hit? I think it is a combination of an interesting plot, neat special effects, and some good character development.


The series also delivers something else: the “it” factor among the key demographic of 18-34 year old viewers. The “Dome” also has a huge social media buzz, which is vital to capturing that demographic.


The success of “Under the Dome” is a good case study in the future of broadcast television marketing. Personally, I have my wife to thank for getting me into the show because initially I had no real interest in watching it.  It made me think about how the marketing of television programming has evolved, and will continue to do so in the future.


NBC says “Me too”


Anyone who has worked in marketing, as I have, is familiar with the “me too” approach. A product or a concept is launched and is met with success, so the competition lines up in those instances to launch a similar product or concept.

In this case, due to the success of CBS with Stephen King’s “Under the Dome”, now NBC and their programming chief, Bob Greenblatt, announced that they will be running a new version of Stephen King’s “Tommyknockers” during the upcoming TV season.


This news and the news on some other mini-series launches were covered by The Hollywood Reporter, who also reported the announcement that NBC had hired Quinn Taylor away from ABC to run their mini-series and “longform” programming. This move is significant because Mr. Taylor has worked on previous Stephen King mini-series projects (


The other mini-series projects announced by NBC include:

  • Mark Burnett produced series sequel to “The Bible” series which aired on The History Channel during Lent
  • Hilary Clinton project with Diane Lane playing the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State
  • A re-make of Rosemary’s Baby based on the wildly popular book and movie


Now, in fairness to NBC, Mr. Greenblatt has stated his commitment for a long time now to limited series, special event, and live television programming. I have written previous articles about the need to make changes to the marketing and promotion of broadcast television programming, the limited series approach is one strategy which could be successful in delivering increased ratings.


Along those same lines, NBC is going to air a special event quiz show, which will run continuously for a certain number of days streaming over their website. The quiz show will air a segment in prime time each night over the course of the event, and will be hosted by Ryan Seacrest.


Finally, NBC is expanding their commitment to live sports television programming by landing the U.S. broadcast rights to the English Premier League soccer games. They will air games live on NBC and the NBC Sports Network. The network will also continue their exclusive coverage of the Olympics with the Winter Games in February 2014.


A Changing Landscape


I have written previously about the changing landscape of television, and the plethora of devices and services which provide content streaming over the internet.


The premium cable channels such as Starz and Encore have expanded their own production on original series and mini-series programming. The entry of subscription content providers, such as Netflix, producing their own original series content has added further competition to the major networks.


Some media analysts believe that the network TV model of the 24 episode season running from September to May, with the break at the holidays and the traditional “sweeps” periods may be an outdated timetable.


The success of series in the summer months, such as the before mentioned “Under the Dome” further forces the analysts, the network executives, and the advertising industry to think about changes to the traditional model for broadcast television.


An economy still in recession, and the rising costs of other entertainment choices, left many families at home this summer which lead to a rise in TV viewership. Overall, the major networks all declined in ratings last year, especially in the key demographics, according to Nielsen. Each network has a different strategy to get their share of those viewers back.


Fall Strategy


The strategy at CBS is to stay with their lineup with minimal changes, they are the top broadcast channel by total viewership and their hit shows (NCIS, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, The Mentalist, Person of Interest, and The Amazing Race) are well known and well established shows.


The biggest new entry for the network is the return of Robin Williams to television in “The Crazy Ones” which they are heavily promoting. I think that the viewers are going to find the concept of the show as really underutilizing Williams’ acting talents, and the show will not be successful.


I will quantify that statement by reminding you that to be a successful new program at CBS you have to draw a huge number of viewers because they are the top network. It is easier to be a new show on a lower ranked network than to be a new show on the top network. CBS cancelled “Vegas” and it averaged 16 million viewers! That would be considered one of the best shows on one of the other major networks.


The strategy at NBC was detailed earlier, but the peacock network also wants to reclaim the Thursday night top comedy night spot from CBS. Their strategy to achieve this objective is to bring back Sean Hayes and Michael J. Fox to their own respective new comedy projects for primetime Thursday slots.


I believe that “The Michael J. Fox Show” will be a successful concept, but other critics think it will fail because it is a comedy that deals with Parkinson’s disease, which could be objectionable to some viewers. I think the very loyal fans of Mr. Fox will support the show and keep it on the airwaves.


I believe Mr. Hayes and his concept will be unsuccessful, and that NBC overall will still lose the Thursday night ratings war to CBS.


The strategy at ABC is to continue with their established programs (“Grey’s Anatomy”, “Once Upon A Time”, and “Modern Family”) while adding some new concepts such as: “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland”, and “Betrayal”.


The critics are mostly not enthusiastic for the other new shows they plan to introduce, and I think that ABC has relied too heavily on the fantasy angle with “Once..”, and on shows with a great deal of negative plot lines such as “Revenge”, “Scandal”, and “Betrayal”.


In the end, the networks will be challenged by the changing demographics and how the average viewer uses various technologies to view TV programming and content. The main objective will be innovation, and some luck, which will determine which network will land the next “it” show concept like “Under the Dome”. We will know more by the mid-season point which network was successful in marketing that concept.

New York Knicks: 2013-14 Schedule Release

The National Basketball Association (NBA) finally released the schedules for the upcoming 2013-14 regular season after a delay of a few days. I was very excited to get my first glimpse of the schedule for my favorite team, the New York Knicks, and I was left feeling excited and optimistic after reviewing it.


The Knicks will open up the regular season at home in “The World’s Most Famous Arena”, Madison Square Garden, against the upstart Milwaukee Bucks on October 30th. They have their road opener the next evening, Halloween night, in Chicago to face Derrick Rose and the Bulls.


The team also announced today that they have signed free agent point guard Beno Udrih to a contract for the veterans’ minimum salary (  This is an important move for the Knicks because they needed depth at that position with Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni the only other point guards on the roster.


Scheduling Positives


The positive aspects of this schedule of games are that New York has balance in the schedule especially early:

  • New York has 14 of their first 28 games through Christmas Day at home
  • The Knicks will play on national television often during the season which creates a lot of off days and space in their schedule to accommodate the national TV schedule for ESPN -ABC, and TNT.
  • The Knicks have early games against tough top tier playoff caliber teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Indiana Pacers all at home at MSG, where they are a difficult team to beat in their own arena.
  • The Knicks have a stretch of 8 games in a row at home starting on January 17th against the Clippers which will see them host the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Bobcats, Lakers, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, and LeBron James and the world champion Miami Heat. This team can win several of those games and it could be a great time to solidify their division standing.


Scheduling Negatives

The negative aspects of the schedule are that New York plays several top Western Conference teams early in the schedule (Houston, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Denver Nuggets) I would rather play those games toward the middle part of the season in January. In that respect, the team is in the flow of the season and can handle those games differently.


Some other negative aspects:

  • The road trips are spaced out but they are longer in length
  • Late November trip is the first big test for this team with stops in Washington, Portland, LA to play the Clippers, and Denver. That looks like a 1 win trip to me if things go badly.
  • The January trip to Texas is going to be brutal: Spurs on January 2nd, then the next night in Houston to play Dwight Howard and the Rockets, and then one day off and at Dallas on the 5th
  • The February trip is not going to be easy with the Thunder, the Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic, and the Atlanta Hawks. The Knicks should win the middle two games because the Pelicans and the Magic are both rebuilding at this point, but the other three games are rough. I will have more on this trip later.
  • March has two road trips interjected with 5 home games. The first trip is to Chicago, Detroit, and Minnesota they have home games in between against tough Eastern teams such as Milwaukee and Indiana
  • The big trip in March is the Western trip of 5 games late in the month: Lakers on March 25th, Sacramento Kings on the 26th , then Phoenix, Golden State Warriors and wrapping up in Utah on March 31st. That is a long, difficult trip late in the season against teams that play well at home.


Schedule Highlights


The schedule features some big games and some “must watch” games for the fans of the team including the following:


  • A playoff series rematch against the Indiana Pacers at MSG on November 20th
  • December 5th at Brooklyn to face the new-look rival Nets with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to complement Deron Williams and Joe Johnson.
  • The Knicks will be a part of the NBA extravaganza on Christmas Day with a game at MSG against the Thunder. The two teams played a drama filled close game last year out in Oklahoma City – the league hopes it will get that same performance at 2:30 PM as this game is the lead in game for the feature game of the holiday: Heat vs. Lakers at 5 PM (both games on ABC)
  • LeBron James and the Heat come to MSG on Thursday, January 9, 2014
  • The Knicks will play their traditional MLK Day matinee game this year against the Nets at MSG at 2:30 PM – that is going to be a great game!
  • The Knicks will visit Kobe Bryant and the new look Lakers on January 26th which is a Sunday at 3:30 in a game televised on ABC
  • They play at Miami on February 1st
  • Knicks visit the Thunder on Sunday, February 9th at 1 pm on ABC
  • Knicks again visit Miami in a Thursday night TNT game on February 27th
  • They host the rival Nets on April 2nd   which could have playoff implications
  • They play Miami again on April 6th which is a 1 PM Sunday ABC game
  • Knicks host the Bulls on another Sunday matinee at 1 PM on April 13th
  • They finish the series with the rival Nets in Brooklyn on April 15th
  • The regular season ends at home against Toronto on April 16th


Schedule Fluke


In a weird scheduling move the Knicks will travel to Oklahoma City to play the Thunder on February 9th and then come home to play the Kings on February 12th. Then they will go back on the road to Memphis, New Orleans, Orlando, and Atlanta.


This is strange because most of the time, the NBA tries to schedule the travel to certain regions around the same time. The three reasons for this weird trip out and then back to New York only for one game, could be:

  1. It could have been done to fit within the national TV schedule to put the Thunder game on ABC on a Sunday if that is what the network wanted
  2. It could be an arena availability issue with the other teams which pushed that trip off a few more days.
  3. The Kings only come out to the East Coast about twice a season so they needed to “shoe horn” in the game in NY against the Kings on the 12th


The schedule fluke could provide the Knicks some issues because that is a lot of travel in a condensed amount of time.


End Analysis

I think the Knicks schedule is spaced out well to give this team of mostly veteran players the adequate rest they will need to be prepared for these games. I have seen much more difficult schedules for the Knicks in my many years of following the team.

I am very excited for the upcoming season, and I look forward to the tip off against Milwaukee on October 30th.  I think this Knicks team should remain a top tier team in the Eastern Conference and have a chance to contend for a NBA Championship.