Report: New MLS TV deal "On the Precipice"

Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Reports from this weekend's ESPN upfront presentation for the World Cup broadcast are that ESPN, Fox, and MLS are on the precipice of a TV rights deal.

MLS has been at work on a new TV deal to begin in the 2015 season long enough that it's easy to forget the joint ESPN/Fox deal worth $70 million was reported back in January. That deal has been sitting on the table for five months now, and reports from this weekend's ESPN upfront presentation for the World Cup broadcast are that the parties involved are on the precipice.

ESPN has been a partner with MLS since 1996, although in the early days MLS paid ESPN for the pleasure. The league has grown enough to demand a rights fee instead of paying for play, but the deals still pale to what the longer established leagues command. ESPN is MLS' primary broadcaster, but won't broadcast their first MLS match for a few weeks more.

The rumor as to why a finalized deal hasn't been announced was that NBC had re-entered negotiations for the secondary MLS English language package. Those hopes appear to be false, as reporters were assured that Fox is set to take over the secondary MLS package ahead of becoming the World Cup broadcaster in 2018 and 2022.

Even though it currently is a lame-duck World Cup broadcaster, ESPN has been going all in to put together a great show. The sports network has run a series of Soccer Stories branded 30 for 30 films on Tuesdays, and plans to run a six part series on the United States national team starting on the thirteenth of May.

ESPN will be on site in Brazil for the World Cup broadcasts, including the base camp for in studio productions. The company has plans to bid when the World Cup rights come up for auction again in 2022.

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