MLS Asks Fans to ‘Bring It’ Online

NEW YORK Can you bend it better than Beckham? That’s what Major League Soccer wants to know.

MLS has entered the user-generated content space, launching a competition for the best goal within an official match caught on video.

The “MLS Big Shot” competition launched last week and will run until early November. MLS officials will pre-screen video submissions and place their top picks on the league site, The winner will be determined by votes from MLS fans and announced in early November. That individual will receive an MLS prize package, which includes an MLS match ball, MLS jersey and an MLS video game. Finalists will receive an MLS T-shirt.

“Our research has shown that when we connect with our fans, whether it’s through athlete appearances, consumer promotions or any other of those touch points, their desire to attend a live MLS game or watch it on television increases exponentially. Given that we’re always looking at creative ways to connect with them, allowing fans to showcase their soccer skills was a way to really enhance that connection,” said Dan Courtemanche, svp, marketing and communications at MLS.

The initiative is being launched in part as a lead-in to the playoffs and MLS’ Nov. 18 championship game.

MLS Big Shot was created in partnership with Sports on Earth, a subsidiary of Major League Baseball Advanced Media that operates Internet and multimedia sports ventures, said Courtemanche.

The contest is being promoted online through all of the MLS assets, on cablecasts of league games and via select online advertising with external soccer sites. MLS will also send contest details to approximately 200,000 fans in its database.

Finalist submissions will appear only on the beginning Oct. 27, despite an existing YouTube deal. “As we look to develop the Major League Soccer brand, the MLS Network is a very big part of that. And we really felt that the home of MLS should be the site to host this contest,” said Courtemanche.