CHICAGO (Oct. 22, 2014) – U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer have partnered with IMG, a global leader in sport and entertainment, to market and distribute global media rights for the two soccer organizations for the next eight years.
The long-term agreement, from 2015-2022, includes MLS as well as U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team matches played on American soil and qualifying games for two World Cup cycles. It excludes media rights within the U.S. and Canada.
IMG will market the rights across all platforms including digital and gaming.
The deal was completed between IMG and Soccer United Marketing (SUM), which represents MLS and U.S. Soccer’s commercial rights.
“We have a large number of fans who live outside the United States, and with the team’s performance in the 2014 World Cup we’ve brought in additional new fans,” said U.S. Soccer CEO/Secretary General Dan Flynn. “It is important for us to provide them with access to our matches. We are excited to be working with IMG to ensure we are connecting with our fans across the world in the coming years.”
“As Major League Soccer approaches its 20th season, the worldwide interest in the league is at an all-time high and growing dramatically,” said Gary Stevenson, President and Managing Director, MLS Business Ventures. “With two new expansion clubs in New York and Orlando, global stars like David Villa, Frank Lampard and Kaka set to join the league, and players representing almost 60 countries, 2015 will be an exciting year for MLS. IMG’s expertise and unique position in the global marketplace make them the right partner for us and together we’ll grow the league's global footprint. ”
Ioris Francini, President of IMG Events and Media, said: “Football in the U.S. is very much on an upward curve following the U.S. Men’s National Team’s excellent showing in the World Cup in Brazil and the continued expansion and development of MLS.
“MLS is experiencing vast growth in attendance, investment, stadia infrastructure, TV audience and domestic and international player transfers. This is unlike any other league today.
“Over 20 players were called up for their national teams in the World Cup and more and more top players from European clubs are making the move across the Atlantic. We see great potential for the growth of coverage and awareness of both MLS and the U.S. National Teams."
Currently the MLS regular season runs from March to October with 19 teams – 16 from the U.S. and three from Canada – taking part in the Eastern and Western Conferences. The team with the best record is awarded the Supporters’ Shield. The top 10 teams compete in the postseason MLS Cup Playoffs in November, culminating in the championship game, MLS Cup, in December.
In 2015, the league will increase to 21 clubs with New York City FC and Orlando City SC joining MLS. Both teams have announced marquee signings with Chelsea’s record goal scorer Frank Lampard and Spain’s leading marksman David Villa joining NYCFC, and Brazilian Ballon’Dor winner Kaka signing for Orlando City. In 2017, Atlanta will take the number of clubs to 22.
MLS was founded in 1993 as part of the United States’ successful bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The first season took place in 1996 with 10 teams.