WASHINGTON, May 12, 2014 — Fox Sports and ESPN, once rivals to host the World Cup, have joined forces, along with Univision Deportes, on a huge landmark TV deal to air Major League Soccer and U.S. national teams games through 2022.
One of the highlights of the deal sees ESPN and Fox air back-to-back MLS games on Sunday evenings.
Fox outbid incumbent ESPN to win the TV rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, now the networks are playing ball together.
“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,” said U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati.
For the first time in MLS history, all three television partners will feature an MLS Match of the Week. 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 games on Sundays at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively. More than 115 MLS matches will be televised annually on the three networks.
“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,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
The details of the deal are listed below:
- 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 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.
- 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 Fridaydoubleheaders 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.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
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