Big day for soccer fans in the U.S. as NBC outbid Fox Soccer Channel for the rights to televise 45 Major League Soccer games and four US Men’s National Team matches per season. FSC currently has the rights for the remainder of 2011 so this new deal will begin next season.
NBC will televise two regular season MLS games, two playoff games and two appearances by the USMNT, while the NBC Sports Network (currently VERSUS) will broadcast 38 regular-season games, three playoff games and two USMNT matches. Each televised game with have a pre and post-game session. The NBC deal is for three years.
Here is an excerpt from the official release from MLSsoccer.com:
Mark Lazarus – NBC Sports Group Chairman
“Everyone at the NBC Sports Group is thrilled to begin this partnership with Major League Soccer,” said Lazarus. “MLS is a perfect fit for our new group, and we are uniquely positioned to help grow soccer in the United States with extensive coverage on NBC Sports Network, significant programming on the broadcast network and our growing digital platforms. Additionally, this agreement complements the partnerships that five of our regional sports networks have with their local MLS teams.”
Don Garber – MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO
“Our new partnership with the NBC Sports Group is a significant step forward for Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer,” said MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO Don Garber. “The NBC Sports Group is world-renowned for its award-winning coverage, superb broadcast quality and promotional expertise. We are excited to be part of NBC’s ambitious plans for soccer, and look forward to reaching a considerable audience on multiple platforms.”
This deal set up a potential rights battle in 2014 between FSC, ESPN and NBC for MLS. Ratings will have to continue to grow between now and then, but if they do then 2012 could be a watershed year for Major League Soccer.