SBJ/May 7 - 13, 2007/This Weeks News

Radio station group Lotus buys MLS game rights

Soccer United Marketing sold its first radio rights for Major League Soccer and the U.S. men’s national team last week.

Lotus Communication Corp., one of the nation’s largest private radio station groups with 25 stations nationally, acquired the rights through 2010 with an agreement sources put in the low seven figures annually.

The deal gives Lotus both English- and Spanish-language radio rights, as well as Internet radio rights to MLS, U.S. soccer and SuperLiga. SUM retains satellite radio rights to all three properties.

“They’ve got a huge belief this market is going to continue to grow,” said Mike Gandler, SUM’s senior director of Hispanic business.

Lotus will have rights to broadcast an MLS game each week, the All-Star Game and MLS Cup. It won’t begin MLS broadcasts until 2008.

The radio company’s first broadcast of the U.S. national team is expected to be June 2 when the U.S. plays China in San Jose.

Broadcasts of national team games will continue through 2014, as the result of a second contract with SUM.

Lotus is a founding partner of the ESPN Deportes network and currently broadcasts both the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers in Spanish. It initially plans to roll out most of its soccer coverage in Spanish, as well, relying on its strong, Spanish-language footholds in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas and Houston.

While Spanish-language broadcasts of soccer have long been successful, English-language broadcasts have been virtually nonexistent. Lotus President Jim Kalmenson is confident the company can grow that market.

“The MLS English will take time to develop,” Kalmenson said, adding that the same was true for U.S. soccer. “It’s not something that will happen overnight.”

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