May 12, 2014; New York, NY, USA; A general view of the MLS press conference announcing new television deals at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

MLS Signs Landmark TV Deal with ESPN, FOX, and Univision

MLS Announces Landmark Television Deal.

On Monday Major League Soccer officially announced its 8 year television deal with ESPN, Fox, and Univision. Deal is worth a reported $90 million a year. This would be more than the $83 million NBC pays the English Premiere league as Grant Wahl reported on twitter.

The press conference on Monday also indicated that ESPN will be taking over the digital distribution of the game with non-nationally televised games available on ESPN3.

The significance of this can’t be understated. While many people try to go chord free and not have a paid television service the vast majority of growth opportunity for the league is with those who do. It also means instead of having to purchase an MLS Live package, fans will be able to tune in via their computers or mobile devises, as well now on the Xbox platform.

Jeremiah Oshan from MLSSOCCER.com reported on twitter that the distribution will be available on “over the top services such as Google Play, iTunes Apple TV, ROKU.

What does this mean for the league?

For starters Don Garber, the commissioner of MLS indicated talks were still continuing regarding the collective bargaining agreement between the players and the league. He also hinted the players would likely want some of the huge increase in money now flowing into the league.

The large influx of new monies means we could see a couple of significant changes in the league as early as 2015. The first being a sizeable increase in the salary cap for each team, in the neighborhood of $10 million per team.

Increasing the salary cap to $10 million dollars would allow the team to increase spending modestly on players and bring in higher quality players overall.

MLS will likely also add a 4th Designated Player position per team. While the third designated player for each team currently has to be bought, meaning the team has to pay a fee to obtain the ability to have a third designated player, a 4th DP would significantly increase the star power in the league.

Finally the new agreement will mean consistent starting times for national broadcasts ranging from Friday nights to Sunday evenings for ESPN. The Sunday start time for ESPN and FOX has the potential for being a permanent time slot for MLS. Previously start times were moved often with no “set” MLS time slot for fans to look forward too.

 

Full Press Release:

Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer Sign Landmark Television and Media Rights Partnerships with ESPN, FOX and Univision Deportes

  • Eight-year Agreements Begin in 2015
  • Nationally-televised Matches will be Anchored on Friday and Sunday
  • Univision Becomes First Spanish-language Network to have Exclusive Night with U.S.-based Major Professional Sports League

NEW YORK (May 12,2014) – Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer have signed new television and media rights partnerships with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision Deportes, reaching eight-year agreements with the networks to televise MLS and U.S. Soccer matches in the United States through the end of 2022. The announcement was made today by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, U.S. Soccer CEO/General Secretary Dan Flynn, ESPN, Inc. President and Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman John Skipper, President, COO and Executive Producer for FOX SportsEric Shanksand Univision Deportes President Juan Carlos Rodriguez.

For the first time in Major League Soccer’s history, all three television partners will feature an exclusive MLS Match of the Week, providing soccer fans throughout the country with a destination day and time for each network. The Univision family of networks will televise a game of the week on Friday evenings — primarily onUniMás — and a wrap-up show on Sundays. The Friday night match on the Univision family of networks will be the first time a Spanish-language television network will have its own exclusive night with a major professional sports league based in the United States.

Soccer fans will be able to enjoy a doubleheader of MLS action every Sunday, as ESPN and FOX Sports 1 will televise back-to-back MLS matches on Sundays at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET, respectively. More than 125 MLS matches will be televised annually on the three networks.

The new agreements also will include extensive marketing and promotional support from all network partners, including dedicated campaign support and cross-promotion across all three networks for upcoming MLS and U.S. Soccer matches. In addition, ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision Deportes will develop multi-platform initiatives to build the profile of MLS and U.S. Soccer players, including tune-in campaigns, digital content and shoulder programming, social media marketing and integration of MLS and U.S. Soccer stars in network programs such as the ESPYS and Premio Lo Nuestro.

ESPN has broadcast MLS matches since the league’s inception in 1996, and the new agreement will extend ESPN’s partnership with the league to 27 seasons. Fox Sports returns to MLS after previously broadcasting the league’s games from 2003 to 2011. Univision’s new agreement with MLS will extend the relationship between the nation’s top Spanish-language network and the league to 20 seasons.

“We are honored to partner with ESPN, FOX and Univision to form the most comprehensive U.S. media rights partnership in the history of soccer in our country,” said Commissioner Garber. “The commitment from our television partners in terms of structure, length and magnitude is unprecedented, and these new partnerships are another strong indicator of the League’s continued growth and the overall fan interest in our sport.”

Major League Soccer’s out-of-market package, currently serviced through the MLS Live and MLS Direct Kick packages, will be available to a wider audience via ESPN3, ESPN’s live multiscreen sports network currently in more than 92 million homes, and WatchESPN, available to fans who receive their video or Internet subscription from an affiliated provider. Featuring more than 200 MLS matches each year, the MLS out-of-market package will also be available via over-the-top services such as Google Play, iTunes Apple TV, Roku and others.

With national television broadcasts anchored on Fridays and Sundays, MLS clubs will have exclusivity on Saturdays, allowing for additional flexibility to schedule games. All of the Saturday MLS matches will be available via the new out-of-market package on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.

All three networks will televise both U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team matches. ESPN and FOX Sports 1 will split the English-language Men’s National Team broadcast package of approximately 10 games per year, and will share the schedule of Women’s National Team games. Univision Deportes is the exclusive Spanish language home of U.S. Soccer, broadcasting all of the U.S. Men’s National Team games, and a minimum of four Women’s National Team matches each year during the term.

“We are extremely pleased to have extended our partnerships with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “The commitment made by our television partners to broadcast such a wide range and quantity of games demonstrates the growing demand for soccer in our country and provides a platform for our growing fan base to follow the game both for club and country.”

ESPN Networks

  • Minimum of 34 regular season games, on an exclusive basis, on Sundays at 5 p.m. ET primarily on ESPN2.
  • ESPN and FOX Sports will share MLS Cup Playoff matches outside of the two Univision games.
  • MLS Cup will alternate each year between ESPN and FOX Sports 1.
  • The AT&T MLS All-Star Game will alternate each year between ESPN and FOX Sports 1.
  • ESPN and FOX Sports will split all U.S. Soccer matches.
  • ESPN3 will carry the matches in MLS’ out-of-market package.
  • ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes Radio networks have the rights to broadcast MLS matches.
  • ESPN obtains digital rights across all platforms and devices for the games it televises.

“ESPN remains firmly committed to world-class soccer and this agreement underscores our belief that this is an ascendant sports property,” said Skipper. “We are proud to continue our longstanding relationship with MLS and U.S. Soccer, and the broad media rights we have acquired, including enhanced digital rights, will benefit all our platforms.”

FOX Sports

  • Minimum of 34 regular season games, on an exclusive basis, on Sundays at 7 p.m. ET primarily on FOX Sports 1.
  • FOX Sports 1 and ESPN will split MLS Cup Playoff matches outside of the two Univision games.
  • MLS Cup will alternate each year between FOX Sports 1 and ESPN.
  • The AT&T MLS All-Star Game will alternate each year between FOX Sports 1 and ESPN.
  • FOX Sports obtains digital rights across all platforms and devices for the games it televises, including its FOX Sports GO mobile app and FOXSportsGO.com for desktops.
  • FOX Sports obtains digital highlight rights for MLS’s out-of-market package via FOX Sports digital platforms.
  • ESPN and FOX Sports 1 will split all U.S. Soccer matches.
  • FOX Sports Radio network has the opportunity to broadcast MLS matches.

“This groundbreaking deal represents a giant leap forward in the exposure for, and the commitment to, soccer in the U.S.,” said Eric Shanks, president, COO and executive producer for FOX Sports. “Not only are we making a significant financial commitment, but we also plan to mobilize FOX’s substantial promotional resources to raise awareness and grow the fan base for our nation’s premier soccer league and its national teams.”

Univision

  • Minimum of 34 regular season games, on an exclusive basis, on Friday evenings usually at 7 p.m. ET or 11 p.m. ET, primarily on UniMás.
  • Two MLS Cup Playoff matches per season, on an exclusive basis, during the knockout round.
  • The AT&T MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup, exclusively in Spanish on Univision.
  • All U.S. Soccer Men’s National Team matches, including a minimum of four U.S. Women’s National Team matches each year over the term.
  • Exclusive MLS matches on the Univision networks will include Second Audio Program (SAP), providing viewers the option of watching games in English. English audio also will be available for matches televised on Univision’s digital platforms.
  • Univision Deportes Network (UDN), Univision’s 24-hour sports network, will feature 5-7 consecutive Friday doubleheaders in May and June that will be surrounded by two hours of MLS ancillary programming.
  • UDN will televise a weekly Sunday MLS wrap-up program and a condensed MLS match of the week.
  • Univision obtains digital rights across all platforms and mobile devices for the games it televises.

“Soccer is the No. 1 sport for Hispanic Americans and we are proud to continue our longstanding partnership with both MLS and U.S. Soccer,” said Rodriguez. “We are excited to bring the Hispanic audience together around this passionate sport. I am optimistic that our comprehensive partnership will accelerate the growth of soccer even further over the next decade.”

 

 

 

 

Tags: ESPN FOX Major League Soccer MLS

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