Hold on to your seats Major League Soccer players and fans, the league’s popularity and viewership are ready for takeoff.
Earlier today, mlssoccer.com announced that the league and US Soccer has signed an eight year television agreement with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision Deportes.
“For the first time in Major League Soccer’s history, all three television partners will feature an exclusive MLS Match of the Week,” the website reported, “providing soccer fans throughout the country with a destination day and time for each network.”
The deal, reportedly worth a combined $90 million annually, is exactly what the league needs. ESPN and FOX Sports will broadcast at least 34 regular season games on Sundays at 5 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. ET respectively. Univision Deportes will also broadcast a minimum of 34 regular season game, but it’ll be on Fridays at 7 p.m. ET or 11 p.m. ET.
With over 125 matches being broadcasted every season, MLS average viewership should increase. Although NBC Sport has done a fantastic job with its MLS coverage since 2012, ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision Deportes combined, are bigger platforms for the league to increase its popularity.
According to sportsbusinessdaily.com, ESPN averaged 311,000 viewers per game from 20 MLS matches, while NBS Sports Network averaged 125,000 from 40 MLS matches in 2012.
As the league’s humble reputation continues to grow and attract more fans, it needs networks that will dedicated their time, manpower and money to growing the league and its player’s popularity. And that is exactly what these networks are promising to do.
Mlssoccer.com reported that “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.”
The article also stated that the three networks will “develop multi-platform initiatives to build the profile” of MLS players.
The increased popularity of the players will benefit both the league and the players. Increased popularity will immediately increase a player’s worth and they’ll feature on the same media platforms as the Lebron James’ of this world. With its players in the public eye, MLS will enjoy free marketing. The more famous the players get, the more merchandize the league will sell.
For the fans, the blockbuster deal means that they can watch their favorite team on different media outlets. The league’s out-of-market package will be available via ESPN3, WatchESPN, iTunes Apple TV, Roku, Google Play, and many more.
ESPN and FOX Sports will provide the English language broadcast and Univision Deportes will be targeting Hispanic Americans as its primary viewers, which is why the games will be broadcasted in Spanish .
This momentous deal is another big success for Commissioner Don Garber whose preposterous goal of having 24 teams competing in the league by 2020 is taking shape right before our eyes. With this deal, the league would have both the revenue and space for 24 teams.
Unfortunately for NBC Sports Network, their brief relation with MLS comes to an end after the two parties could not come to an agreement.
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