August 30 – The MLS Cup final will return to a national American network in 2019 with ABC airing the November 10 showpiece match in the US domestic calendar.
It is the first time in more than a decade that the game will be aired by one of America’s big four national TV networks. ESPN shares the MLS rights with Fox and Spanish-language network Univision in an eight-year deal running through to 2022 that is worth $90 million.
ESPN and Fox normally split the MLS Cup final and the annual all-star match, but this year ESPN has decided to shift the broadcast of the final match to its national sister network.
“ABC has a rich history of soccer coverage, including MLS Cup for more than a decade in the early years of Major League Soccer,” said ESPN’s executive vice president for programming and scheduling Burke Magnus. “We are excited to once again showcase the league’s marquee event on the network.”
The match will also air on ABC in Canada with the Sports Network (TSN) and French-language pay-TV network TVA Sports also obtaining Canadian rights to the playoff and final matches.
This year’s MLS Cup has been restructured into a new post-season playoff format with 14 teams competing in single-game knockout matches within a three-week period. “With a new playoff format that rewards regular season performance with a greater homefield advantage, the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs will feature must-see games in the most intense atmospheres,” said Deputy Commissioner and managing director of MLS Business Ventures Gary Stevenson.
Last season defending champions Atlanta United hosted the final, defeating Portland Timbers 2-0. The game drew a record crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Arena and drew an audience of 1.56 million on Fox TV.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1573949524labto1573949524ofdlr1573949524owedi1573949524sni@o1573949524fni1573949524