I think the headline says it all, actually.

Only kidding. But those are the relevant facts; MLS has hired Brian Bedol to advise them on their media dealings moving forward. Bedol is best known as the man behind Classic Sports Network (subsequently purchased and turned into ESPN Classic) and College Sports TV (purchased by CBS), and also happens to be a close personal friend of a certain Don Garber.

Bedol's track record, and the fact that has no formal consulting practice (with MLS as his only client) has led to speculation that MLS is considering launching their own dedicated channel. Think MLBTV, NBATV, the NFL Network - a channel run by the league that would presumably show matches, press conferences, interviews, etc., etc.

First, it's a great idea. Of course, I say that as a fan that would like pony up for the channel if it came to be; without the requisite knowledge on just how much it would take to start up and operate an MLS Network, I can't possibly speak to whether it's five years or fifteen years from being possible.

But I wonder why the league, unless they're just throwing The Don's friend a bone (which he doesn't need), would hire a guy with Bedol's expertise. Garber said that Bedol's hiring as little to do with the current TV negotiations (with FSC); perhaps he's in place to help the league deal with the coming expiration of the deal with ESPN and Univision, coming up in 2014.

Four years isn't much time, though, and ESPN will still be as crucial, if not more so, to the league's growth as it is now. The ESPN platform provides MLS credibility (to a point) and exposure; it's difficult to imagine that the league could pull an NHL and skate off to a lesser-network without feeling significant repercussions. Versus might be a very nice place for MLS to be, but it's not a replacement for ESPN.

As for a dedicated MLS channel: that's a heavy undertaking that would require a significant investment, acquisition and creation of content, and negotiating its place onto the lineups of satellite and cable providers. If Bedol's hiring is a sign the league is thinking in that direction, I applaud them even as I wonder how they could possibly pull it off.

But perhaps that's not why he's there at all.

Whatever the reasons, MLS is taking charge of its media profile. Hopefully that leads to improved production, better relationships, and a stronger media presence overall.

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