SBJ/July 31 - August 6, 2006/This Weeks News

Fox Soccer Channel completes deal with SUM

Fox Soccer Channel wrapped up a rights deal with Soccer United Marketing last week that positions the Fox Sports digital network as one of the two go-to soccer destinations on U.S. TV.

Fox Soccer Channel has the rights to an MLS
Game of the Week on Saturday nights.
Fox paid about $11 million over five years for the rights to an MLS Game of the Week every Saturday night and now gains up to three MLS playoff games a year and two men’s and two women’s U.S. national team games through 2010.

ABC/ESPN is negotiating for the larger part of SUM’s TV package, but no deal had been signed by press time. Sources said a deal is imminent, and it’s likely ESPN2 will telecast a Thursday night MLS game.

All of Fox Soccer’s Saturday night games will be exclusively on the network, and up to 33 percent of the Saturday games will have no other MLS competition in the time slot, something the network plans to tout.

“We will own Saturday nights from now on,” said David Sternberg, Fox Soccer general manager and executive vice president. “It will be appointment viewing for anyone who wants to see soccer games that night.”

As part of the deal, Fox Sports en Español, Fox Sports Latin America and Fox Sports Middle East/Africa will also carry those MLS games.

Fox Soccer Channel has carried an MLS Game of the Week since 2003. The network will begin telecasting the national team games next year, and those could include some World Cup qualifiers, Sternberg said.

The network also picked up the rights to three international friendly matches a year organized by SUM, starting with next month’s three-game tour by Spanish club FC Barcelona, and it secured exclusive rights to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final from 2006-10. Previously, GOL TV held those rights. The deal includes online and wireless rights as well.

SUM will sell national advertising for the MLS and the national team games on Fox Soccer and split the proceeds with Fox. Fox will handle ad sales for the games on its sister networks.

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