NBC Sports Group, Major League Soccer Ink Three-Year Rights Deal
NEW YORK -- NBC Sports Group, part of Comcast's NBCUniversal, and Major
League Soccer on Wednesday unveiled a three-year media rights deal, starting
with the 2012 season.
The deal will replace what used to be a rights package held by News Corp.’s Fox Soccer Channel. Walt Disney’s ESPN continues to hold MLS game rights for several more years.
Financials terms of the agreement weren't disclosed. It calls for 45 MLS games and four U.S. men’s national soccer team matches to be televised live on NBC and NBC Sports Network, which will change its name from Versus as of Jan. 2, each season.
Said Mark Lazarus, chairman, NBC Sports Group: “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.”
Comcast SportsNets in California, Chicago, the mid-Atlantic, New England and Philadelphia have such deals with local teams.
NBC will broadcast two regular-season MLS games, two playoff games and two national team matches each season, marking the first time since 2002 that four MLS matches will be broadcast on English-language network TV. NBC Sports Network will air 38 regular-season games, three playoff games and two national team games. The NBC Sports Group also obtained digital rights across all digital platforms and devices for the games it airs.
“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. "We are excited to be part of NBC’s ambitious plans for soccer, and look forward to reaching a considerable audience on multiple platforms.”