Sunday, July 4, 2021

Analyzing the benefits and drawbacks of the new Revolution TV contract

By Zachary Baru

As we enter the middle of the New England Revolution's season, the Major League Soccer franchise is in the fourth month of their new television contract.  The new deal with CBS Boston brings all regionally produced Revolution games to CBS Boston's broadcast and digital properties.  In a deal that feels very 2021, with so much of entertainment heading to streaming, is the Revs' new deal positive or negative for the franchise's brand?

To most people, this new deal that allows the games to be both televised and streamed sounds like a perfect one, one with zero negative outcomes.  And while nearly four months in this deal does in fact feel like a very positive one, there is one key issue that this deal causes: leaving NBS Sports Boston. 

The Loss of NBC Sports Boston

This is no small side affect.  NBC Sports Boston has a massive cable and online presence, where viewers can watch on nearly all cable companies in basically every New England city or town.  NBC Sports Boston also has their own app that streams games live, as well as being featured in the NBC Sports app, which allows fans to watch games on smart phones and smart TVs.  All in all, the loss of the Revolution's presence on NBC Sports Boston is one that cannot be measured, as it almost unquestionably will hurt the franchise with so many sports fans no longer seeing the Revs on these platforms.  

On the flip side, the new deal with CBS Boston does allow for streaming capabilities for all games this season.  As sports, television and radio/audio all seem seem to be heading the direction of streaming, or are already there for the most part, this new deal does appear to be very beneficial for the Revolution and the Kraft Group.  

The Streaming Revolution (No Pun Intended)

It is no secret that the Kraft Group has always had a great relationship with CBS and CBS Boston, but this deal goes much further than that.  The deal allows for not just live broadcasts throughout many New England states, but it allows for all games to be streamed live and featured on CBS Boston's digital properties.

Beginning with streaming, all Revolution games this season will be streamed live on ESPN+.  The subscription service is available on the ESPN app.  Games on ESPN+ will be blacked out in the Boston/Manchester market and in Rhode Island, but those fans can watch live on myTV38 or myRITV.  This allows any fans in New England or worldwide who cannot watch the Revs locally on television, the opportunity to stream live on their TVs or phones with the ESPN app.

The Digital Reach of CBS Boston

The new Revolution deal also allows games to be streamed across CBS Boston's digital properties on CBSN Boston, a network that can be streamed on PlutoTV and  So yes, by now it is obvious, and maybe a little exhausting, but the key word here is streaming.  

Finally, although the theme of streaming may be the number one takeaway with this deal, one final part that should not be overlooked is that the first match of the season was aired on WBZ (Channel 4 Boston, Boston's CBS affiliate).  Additionally one other key match will be aired on WBZ, giving the Revolution a large viewing presence in the Boston market.  

When all is accounted for, this deal does appear to have impacted the Revolution positively.  The new deal with CBS Boston allows for all games to be accessed through streaming and digital platforms, something that will undoubtedly be important to keep the franchise up to date with technology and the viewing habits of fans.  As the way viewers watch sports changes, the focus of the teams must change along with them.

Source: New England Revolution, CBS Boston

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

During a pandemic, Gillette Stadium rises to be much more than a sports venue

By Zachary Baru

When most people think of Gillette Stadium they might think of a home to a world champion football team, a soccer club, or New England's largest concert venue.  But Monday that all changed, as Gillette become more than just an entertainment venue, it provided an opportunity to save lives and vaccinate area residents of the COVID-19 vaccine.  

The stadium became Massachusetts' first mass vaccination site, turning out to be more than adequate with its large parking lots and spacious indoor facilities.  The Putnum Club, which normally hosts fans with club seating and suite ticket holders, was turned into an indoor vaccination site.  The large indoor area and atrium turned out to be extremely safe for people to get vaccinated inside, making it an ideal location in the stadium to hold a vaccination.  

Not only is the parking vast, but Gillette's access to two major highways, Interstates 95 and 495 also make the stadium a highly suitable site.  While clearly not the only large venue in the Greater Boston area, when all requirements for a safe and seamless vaccination are added up, Gillette Stadium proved to be a successful choice on Monday.  

The significance of this in the sports and entertainment world is simple: it proves the importance sports franchises can play in the community, and the role they can assume in helping the region.  In this case, the Patriots' role was literally life and death, and Monday's accomplishment of the staff of the Patriots and Gillette Stadium goes well beyond the typical role of a standard sports franchise.  What everyone at the Kraft Group, owners of the Patriots and Gillette Stadium, accomplished proves just how important and valuable a franchise can be for its citizens in the community.  

The COVID-19 coronavirus has forced us all to look at life differently, and now we can do so in sport as well.  It shows us that while a stadium might normally be a venue to simply watch a game, sometimes it can be much more.  In this case, Gillette Stadium became a community gathering place, serving the highest purpose a sports team can serve - the health and safety of its fans and its community.

Source: Boston Globe, Boston Herald, WPRI-TV

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Friday, January 1, 2021

The Arena Football League may be gone, but the Pirates are bringing the next best thing to New England

By Zachary Baru

Arena football fans in New England have long anticipated the return of the sport to the region.  And although the Massachusetts Pirates have brought indoor football to Worcester since 2018, this spring marks the first time a coast-to-coast indoor football league will play in New England since 2000.

The Pirates announced in August they would be joining the Indoor Football League for the 2021 season.  The franchise will continue to play at the DCU Center in Worcester.  Unlike the Pirates’ former league, the National Arena League, the IFL has teams on both the east and west coasts, making it in terms of geography the largest indoor football league.  

Fans should be careful to use the phrase “arena football” as the former AFL once held patents on parts of the sport that are still not incorporated into other indoor football leagues.  The most noticeable are the nets behind the end zones.  And yes, this invention alone helped the AFL classify their brand of indoor football as their own sport, called “arena football”.  But before we go down that rabbit hole, let’s save that for another story on another day.

The Arena Football League certainly has interesting rules, but also a well known brand name in the sports world.  The Pirates’ new league is has built up a following, but has some growth to do before it can get onto ESPN like the AFL for many seasons, as recently as last year.  

The IFL, by all accounts, is a strong, large league, with a good online and social media presence.  It’s YouTube Channel not only is well run, but streams the leagues’ games live each week of the season.  And with both an east and west coast presence, the Pirates have found a good home in a league that continues to grow each season.

For fans of the indoor game, the future of indoor football in New England looks like a positive one.  A new league, a good venue, and a bright future all surround the Pirates as they go into their new season this spring.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at