SBD/May 28, 2014/Media

ESPN Ponders Selling Online Access To MLS Games For Non-Pay TV Consumers

ESPN is “considering selling online access” to live MLS games to consumers without pay TV subscriptions, an experiment that “could help the sports network find ways to generate revenue outside the traditional pay television system,” according to Liana Baker of REUTERS. ESPN, Fox and Univision “signed an eight-year deal" with MLS earlier this month. Under the agreement, which starts next year, the nets “get rights to national broadcasts.” ESPN also “gained rights to offer a package of 200 games outside of viewers' local markets.” When ESPN announced the MLS deal, the sports net said that it “could run the out of market games on ESPN3, an online network that is free to those who subscribe to a U.S. broadband or pay TV package, such as cable.” But the net also said that it “might explore alternative distribution models.” A source said that ESPN will “make a decision in the next few months regarding how the network will package and distribute the soccer games.” The source said that the games could also be “offered through a special section on the ESPN3 app.” ESPN currently “sells only a few products directly to consumers, including ESPN The Magazine and its Insider online service, which provides in-depth analysis and statistics” (REUTERS, 5/27).
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