U.S. Soccer and MLS Sign Landmark TV Deals
Eight-year Agreement Begins in 2015; ESPN and FOX Sports 1 Will Split All U.S. Soccer Matches; Univision Will Broadcast All Men’s and a Minimum of Four Women’s Games in Spanish each Year
CHICAGO (May 12, 2014) – U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer have signed new television and media rights partnerships with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision Deportes, which will televise U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team, and MLS matches through the end of 2022. The announcement was made today in New York by U.S. Soccer CEO/General Secretary Dan Flynn, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, ESPN, Inc. President and Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman John Skipper, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 General Manager and Chief Operating Officer David Nathanson and Univision Deportes President Juan Carlos Rodriguez.
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 likewise share the schedule of Women’s National Team games. Univision Deportes is the exclusive Spanish language home of U.S. Soccer and will broadcast all of the U.S. Men’s National Team games, plus a minimum of four Women’s National Team matches each year throughout the duration of the deal.
“We are extremely pleased to have extended our partnerships with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision,” said U.S. Soccer Federation 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.”
For the first time in Major League Soccer’s history, all three television partners will feature an 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 and a wrap-up show on Sundays, while 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 115 MLS matches will be televised annually on the three networks, with each U.S.-based MLS club scheduled to appear a minimum of one time per season on each partner’s network.
“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.”
As part of the new partnership, U.S. Soccer and MLS will provide enhanced digital rights to ESPN, Univision and Fox Sports, including an agreement with ESPN to distribute MLS’ out-of-market package via ESPN platforms and devices. The league’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, to fans who receive their video or internet subscription from an affiliated provider. The new out-of-market package will feature hundreds of MLS matches each year. The new agreements also will include broad promotional support for the games from all network partners.
- ESPN and Fox Sports 1 will share all U.S. Soccer matches.
- ESPN will broadcast a 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 two Univision games.
- MLS Cup will alternate each year between ESPN and Fox Sports.
- The AT&T MLS All-Star Game will alternate each year between ESPN and Fox Sports.
- 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 U.S. Soccer and MLS. The broad media rights we have acquired, including enhanced digital rights, will benefit all our platforms.”
- ESPN and FOX Sports 1 will split all U.S. Soccer matches.
- FOX Sports will broadcast a 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 share MLS Cup Playoff matches outside of two Univision games.
- MLS Cup will alternate each year between FOX Sports and ESPN.
- The AT&T MLS All-Star Game will alternate each year between FOX Sports 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
- FOX Sports Radio network has the opportunity to broadcast MLS matches.
- Opportunity to broadcast the MLS SuperDraft and other marquee MLS events.
“This groundbreaking deal represents a giant leap forward in the exposure for, and the commitment to, soccer in the U.S.,” said Nathanson. “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.”
- 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 duration of the deal.
- Minimum of 34 regular season games, on an exclusive basis, on Friday evenings either 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.
- 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 five to seven consecutive Friday doubleheaders in May and June that will be surrounded by two hours of MLS ancillary programming.
- UDN will televise a weekly MLS wrap-up program and a condensed MLS match of the week each Sunday.
- 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.”