SBJ/July 9 - 15, 2007/This Weeks News

SUM secures $2M in international rights for MLS

Soccer United Marketing has completed four international rights agreements worth more than $2 million for the remainder of this season’s MLS and SuperLiga games.

Though the figure comes nowhere close to the more than $1.3 billion that the Premier League is expected to receive internationally, it marks an important step in MLS’s evolution. The deals provide the league with a new revenue stream and highlight the value of adding international stars like David Beckham of England and Cuauhtemoc Blanco of Mexico.

The deals show the reach of international
players like Blanco.

SUM completed a one-year deal covering the remainder of MLS’s season with Cadena Tres, a Mexican terrestrial broadcaster that reaches 5 million households. The broadcaster signed a high-six-figure deal that covers the second half of the season.

ESPN International signed a similar agreement that will deliver 22 games featuring Beckham, Blanco and other international players to countries in Latin America, Oceania, Africa and the Middle East.

The league also struck two separate agreements for rights to SuperLiga, a tournament between Mexican and MLS clubs that begins at the end of this month. Mexican media company TeleVisa signed a revenue-sharing agreement to televise the tournament, and ART, a North African and Middle Eastern distribution company, signed a six-figure agreement.

Collectively, the agreements deliver the first major international rights fees since the league negotiated an international agreement with German broadcasters in 2000 after defender Lothar Matthaus joined MLS.

“The difference since then is the overall quality of play and overall product has gotten better,” said Mike Gandler, SUM’s senior director of Hispanic business.

SUM also hopes to finalize deals with broadcasters in South Korea and Japan in the next 45 days.

The decision to limit the agreements to one year was deliberate, Gandler said.

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