The big news to break this morning is that MLS and NBC will be broadcast partners next year. Already there is much speculation as to what that means for everyone else. The facts are these:
- It's a three year deal, beginning with the start of the 2012 MLS Season.
- 45 MLS matches and 4 USMNT matches across the NBC Sports platform each year.
"Everyone at the NBC Sports Group is thrilled to begin this partnership with Major League Soccer," said NBC Sports programing president Mark Lazarus. "MLS is a perfect fit for our new group, and we are uniquely positioned to help grow soccer in the United States with extensive coverage on NBC Sports Network, significant programming on the broadcast network and our growing digital platforms. Additionally, this agreement complements the partnerships that five of our regional sports networks have with their local MLS teams."
- NBC will broadcast two regular season MLS matches, two playoff matches, and two national team matches.
“Our new partnership with the NBC Sports Group is a significant step forward for Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer,” said MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO Don Garber. “The NBC Sports Group is world-renowned for its award-winning coverage, superb broadcast quality and promotional expertise. We are excited to be part of NBC’s ambitious plans for soccer, and look forward to reaching a considerable audience on multiple platforms.”
This marks the first time MLS will be broadcast over the air since 2002. ESPN has shown no desire to put MLS programing on ABC, and neither has Fox Sports, so it's nice to see a new partner coming in and offering that. ESPN still has time on their contract, so this will likely have no effect on them. Who this does effect is Fox Sports, who only have a one year contract with MLS.
Fox Soccer just did a major rebranding of their MLS programme. The ratings much be absolutely terrible if they're letting MLS walk away. At any rate, the same problem with FSC will stay with MLS as they go to NBC Sports Channel (nee: Versus). It's not standard on every basic cable package.
It's likely NBC wanted to show USMNT friendlies as build up to Olympic coverage, and MLS used this leverage to negotiate a three year contract. It's certainly a better deal that Fox was offering. This won't affect those with Fox Sports local sports channels, those contracts are negotiated separately, and are the last picked anyhow.
- Garber says Fox “bid heavily” for MLS and US games, but that NBC offer and marketing prowess smthing they “couldn’t turn down.
- NBC Sports programing president Mark Lazarus "We'll be promoting MLS during Notre Dame football broadcasts, NHL."