SBD/August 10, 2011/Media

NBC Signs Three-Year Deal With MLS For Fox Soccer's Television Package

Sources say MLS-NBC agreement worth $10M per year
MLS signed a three-year deal with NBC that will see regular-season MLS games return to English-language broadcast television for the first time since '08. NBC and MLS did not reveal financial terms of the deal, but sources say is worth $10M per year. The deal takes effect with the '12 MLS season. NBC picked up the package that currently is with Fox Soccer. Deal terms have 45 MLS games and four U.S. men's national soccer team games carried live on NBC and Versus, which will be renamed NBC Sports Network in January. "This is clearly another great moment for the sport of American soccer," MLS Commissioner Don Garber told THE DAILY. "NBC has a larger audience and a greater variety of platforms, with network, cable and digital." The deal runs through '14, which is when the ESPN and Univision media deals with MLS end. At that point, MLS most likely would go to market with two packages -- one English and one Spanish -- rather than three. Deal terms will have NBC broadcast two regular-season MLS games, two playoff games and two U.S. national team appearances. NBC's cable channel will carry 38 regular-season games, three playoff games and the other two national team matches. NBC picks up all digital rights to these games. All the telecasts will feature pre- and postgame coverage.

NHL RELATIONSHIP INFLUENCED DEAL: Garber said he was attracted by NBC's history of promoting properties, specifically pointing to the network's relationship with the NHL. "I've watched with envy what NBC has done for the NHL," he said. "We hope NBC can do for soccer what they've been able to do for hockey." Fox Soccer has carried MLS games since '03. Fox Soccer signed a one-year, $6.25M deal to carry MLS games this season. The channel was paying $3M per year prior to this season. "Although we're disappointed MLS chose to go in a different direction, we wish them well while Fox Soccer continues to support the sport's growth in the U.S. through our in-depth coverage showcasing the most revered leagues, teams, players and competitions from around the globe," said Fox Soccer Exec VP & GM David Nathanson. Garber praised Fox Soccer, saying it has "turned into a much more professionally produced cable network" under Nathanson. But he said he could not pass up the added reach that Versus (76 million homes) has over Fox Soccer (39 million homes).
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