US Soccer and MLS enter into ESPN partnership
Official release from Major League Soccer (MLS)
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 Sports Eric Shanks and 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 on UniMas -- 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."
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