But the network and the league weren't able to make all of the necessary arrangements for that to happen in time for the season. One of the biggest days in Major League Soccer's history finally arrived Monday, as the league and the U.
The deal will run from through Garber is well aware of what that kind of money can do to boost MLS. Eastern on Sundays on ESPN2, and digital rights to all of those broadcasts on all platforms and devices.
Garber said Monday that the schedule has not yet been determined. A statement from the U. Soccer Federation said there will be approximately 10 men's games a year total, so each network will get five.
The women's team's schedule is more flexible. If you look at what they've done with new stadiums, with local support, we think the next thing to follow is going to be national television ratings.
The ratings have not grown anywhere close to what people would like. He has had a direct and personal role in ensuring that American soccer holds a place of prominence in Bristol.
We're buying, you know, pork bellies - we think they're going to become more valuable over time. ESPN and Fox are fierce rivals in bidding for other sports properties, but they have a history of working together on soccer. We've all agreed that we're going to try to work together to elevate this sport, particularly the domestic teams and leagues in this country.
Every U. The "Soccer Night In America" branding from its previous deal will return. There is not a requirement that all games must be on Fox Sports 1, which means some games could air on the much-less-distributed Fox Sports 2. The league's press release says that games will air "primarily on Fox Sports 1.
If the current game playoff structure holds, Fox should get six games outside of the Final. For the next eight years, we look forward to cementing the partnership and figuring out how to make this MLS ship rise as one, all together.
Among Garber's most direct remarks Monday was his statement that he was "very pleased to have Fox back in the fold. We know that ths a deal for the future, not just right now.
In so many American sports and soccer leagues around the world, television bankrolls the strength of the league's on-field product. Now MLS is getting that treatment, with an expectation that the league will step up.
I think that this deal is one step towards being able to make that happen. We also believe that the owners are so smart that they are going to throw bigger amounts of money into the teams, and this is going to grow big-time, so we want to be part of that growth.
That has not been lost on Garber. This year, 94 of the regular season's season's games are nationally broadcast.
We don't know how many games there will be in the season, but adding 18 more nationally televised games is still a significant increase.
It is worth re-emphasizing the point that all nationally-televised MLS games in the deal will be on Fridays and Sundays.
Over the course of the the current set of deals, there have been games on six different days of the week with 21 different start times. That won't happen anymore.
Most MLS games will continue to be on Saturdays. This satisfies the demands of some club owners who sell more tickets on Saturdays than any other days of the week. Or, as the league's press release put it, the deal "preserves exclusive Saturday windows for club-controlled matches.
It will also be important to find out just how that half-and-half split of U. World Cup qualifiers are one of the hottest properties in soccer media, especially the five Hexagonal round games.
But you can't divide five games evenly, of course, so we'll have to wait see how the chips fall in the end. That can come later, though. For now, the U. Soccer Federation has just as much reason to be pleased as MLS does.
The league expects more than games each season to be shown this way. In addition, the Direct Kick out-of-market TV package on cable and satellite platforms is also ending. Everything will be online now.
That is not as big of a loss as you might think. As I reported Saturday , this was the last major hurdle in the negotiations of the deal.
The digital rights to MLS broadcasts are of considerable value. For as much as the dramatic increase in rights money is a commitment to MLS on the field, it also sends a message about the league's potential to grow off the field. Shifting all of this content to ESPN3 is an enormous step for the league to take, and one that has the potential to pay very big dividends.
The platform will bring MLS games to the casual soccer fan - and indeed, the greater American sports fan base - in a way that will dramatically expand the league's exposure.
Or if you're a tennis fan, you've watched ESPN3's multi-court coverage of the four grand slams and other tournaments year-round. ESPN3 content is available free of charge with authenticated access through participating internet service providers.
I was told Monday, and SBJ later confirmed, that discussions have been ongoing for the possibility of an additional subscription-based service for those fans.