which begins with a live broadcast of the MLS First Kick on Saturday when D.C. United visit Club Deportivo Chivas USA at 3 p.m. ET -- will include a number of technological advancements.
Highlighting the enhanced production elements is "side-by-side," which will provide for the insertion of advertising inventory during continuous coverage by showing a split screen twice during each half for 30-second intervals. The technology was used successfully during coverage of the first two races from the 2005 IndyCar Series on ABC Sports on March 19 and ESPN on March 6.
"We will be [using 'side-by-side viewing] during a goal kick so there will be nothing to interupt, necessarily, the flow of the action," said Bob Toms, senior executive producer for ABC Sports. "Rather than jam in all of the commercials that we've done at halftime in the past, we're hoping to create a better flow and more content at our halftime. [We want] to make the entire telecast more enjoyable to the viewer."
Also debuting in MLS broadcasts this season will be the SkyCam, a staple on ABC's "Monday Night Football." The aerial camera gives the viewer a unique overhead view of the field. SkyCam will be used in two matches this season, both at The Home Depot Center, including the season opener and the first Los Angeles derby, when Chivas USA squares off with the L.A. Galaxy on April 23.
"In an NFL game, it's a lot easier to follow a football that's goig in one direction," Toms said. "Clearly in soccer we have a different situation and we have a sky cam operator who is going to have a very interesting day as he tries to follow a ball that goes in all sorts of directions at a moment's notice. We're thrilled and excited to try and present this new technology to the American audience."
"Stro-Motion" will again be used by ABC Sports to trace the trajectory of the ball with enhanced graphics, the special replay device is set to be in use on Saturday for the first time ever in an MLS regular season game. "MLS Wired" will give fans an inside listen at what MLS coaches are telling their players, as unobtrusive wireless microphones will be worn on the sidelines, beginning with Thomas Rongen (Chivas USA) this weekend. "Super Mo," another replay feature, will also be in use at selected matches. Additionally, popular music will be used to segue in and out of commercial breaks, particularly at halftime and the "Youth Soccer Spotlight" will highlight youth teams in the stadium on gamedays.
Major League Soccer begins its 10th season on Saturday, as all 12 teams will be in action on opening day. ABC Sports will provide live coverage of the first-ever match for MLS expansion club Chivas USA as they take on the defending MLS Cup champions, D.C. United at 3 p.m. ET at The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. Seventeen total cameras will be in use this weekend, including an aerial shot from the Goodyear blimp.
ABC and the ESPN networks have been one of the premier soccer broadcasters in the United States, combining to televise the 1982, 1986, 1994, 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups and the 1995, 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women's World Cups. All nine previous MLS seasons, including every MLS Cup Final, have been televised on the networks.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.