SBD/Issue 216/Sports Media

ESPN, MLS Reach Eight-Year TV Deal That Includes Rights Fees

MLS Nets Its First Rights Fee Under
Eight-Year Deal With ESPN/ABC
ESPN and SUM formally announced an eight-year multimedia rights agreement for MLS that runs through the 2014 season. The deal marks the first rights-fee agreement for MLS, and previous reports said it is worth $7-8M annually. ESPN2 will air 26 regular-season games in primetime on Thursdays, as well as three playoff games each year. ABC will air each season’s opening match, All-Star Game and MLS Cup. The agreement also provides for televised coverage of the first round of the MLS Draft. ESPN will be responsible for programming and production of all league content. The deal also includes multimedia elements for ESPN360, Mobile ESPN, ESPN Deportes and other ESPN distribution platforms (THE DAILY). MLS Commissioner Don Garber said of the rights-fee arrangement, “We are out of the risk business. The new agreement has a very significant and positive impact on the economics of soccer in this country.” ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper said, “I’m the latest knucklehead who thinks soccer is going to work in the United States. Through the mind-numbing litany of ESPN products, it is almost impossible for me to believe we can’t move this (game) forward” (DAILY HERALD, 8/5). More Garber: “I’m hopeful in our new television deal, our broadcast partners will increase their exposure of MLS games and our partners are financially invested” (MLSNET.com, 8/4).

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Related Topics:

ABC, ESPN, FIFA, MLS, News Corp./Fox, Media, Walt Disney

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