We are used to hearing about US networks bidding to buy the rights to the English Premier League games, but in a validation of the quality of Major League Soccer, Sky Sports in the UK have announced that they have won the exclusive rights to broadcast live Major League Soccer from the start of this season in a new four-year deal.
Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis said:
‘Football in the US and Canada has enormous potential for growth and we can’t wait to bring this competition to our viewers for the first time. Thierry Henry has joined us, he created fantastic memories in MLS, and we look forward to seeing more of those great stories from across the Atlantic.’
As part of the new agreement, Sky Sports will broadcast at least two MLS regular-season matches each week, as well as the AT&T MLS All-Star Game, every MLS Cup Playoff game, and the MLS Cup final. The matches will appear across Sky’s family of networks. Plus Sky will carry weekly MLS highlights across various platforms, including Sky Sports News and SkySports.com.
“As MLS continues to grow into a global brand, we are excited to partner with Sky Sports, a leader in the UK TV market, to bring the sport to millions of soccer fans,” said Gary Stevenson, president and managing director, MLS Business Ventures, in a statement. “2015 is a milestone year for MLS including new stars, new clubs and a new brand. Sky Sports will help continue to grow the League and clubs worldwide.”
Figures have not been released as to what Sky is paying MLS for these TV rights, but the exposure along will be worth millions to the league.
With the two new franchises in Orlando and New York beginning play this year and the arrival of Kaka, David Villa, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jozy Altidore, this is set up to be a banner year for soccer in North America.