MLS secures domestic Fox and TelevisaUnivision deals ahead of Apple season pass launch

December 15 – Major League Soccer has released detail of its expanded four-year ‘linear’ television agreements with FOX Sports and TelevisaUnivision in the US, plus TSN and RDS in Canada.

ESPN, a partner with the MLS since 1996, will not have any broadcast rights. ESPN reportedly withdrew over a stipulation that the new Apple streaming partnership will see Apple branding on all matches. ESPN has its own streaming service.

The new linear agreements start with the new season in 2023 and run through 2026 when the US will co-host the World Cup with Canada and Mexico.

All the broadcasters already have long relationships with MLS. TelevisaUnivision is an original League partner from the inaugural 1996 season; TSN since 2011; and FOX Sports since 2015 (as well as from 2003 to 2011). RDS was previously a league partner from 2011 to 2017.

The new TV deals will see selected matches aired live for the MLS regular season, Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, MLS Cup and the new Leagues Cup which will see the MLS and LIGA MX pause their seasons for a summer month to compete in a 47-club tournament

The agreement with the mainstream channels comes as Apple is set to launch its 10-year partnership with the MLS that will sell an MLS Season Pass and see every MLS match broadcast live.

Subscriptions to MLS Season Pass start on 1 February 2023

“We are proud to continue our partnerships with FOX Sports, Univision and TSN, and we are pleased to have MLS matches on RDS in Canada,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “These broadcast industry leaders continue to demonstrate their deep commitment to MLS and soccer.

“Our linear agreements, along with our partnership with Apple, are the culmination of a series of collaborative discussions to provide our fans with the most expansive and accessible lineup of programming MLS and our sport in the U.S. and Canada have ever seen – and by a significant margin.”

The split of rights will see:

FOX Sports (USA – English and Spanish language)

  • 34 regular-season games annually and eight Audi MLS Cup playoff matches each season on FOX/FS1/FOX Deportes
  • 15 regular-season matches each year on FOX (the most ever by one English language over-the-air network in MLS history)
  • MLS Cup every year on FOX and FOX Deportes
  • Leagues Cup: 10 Group Stage, four Round of 32, and two Round of 16 matches each tournament on FS1
  • Highlight rights, editorial coverage, and cross-marketing support

TelevisaUnivision (USA – Spanish language)

  • Leagues Cup: 21 matches each tournament on Univision/UNIMÁS/TUDN, which includes:
    • 12 Group Stage matches
    • 8 Knockout Round matches
    • Leagues Cup Final
  • MLS: MLSsoccer.com’s Spanish-language website will live on TelevisaUnivision’s platform for the duration of the agreement. TelevisaUnivision will also have MLS highlights and substantial editorial coverage.

TSN (Canada – English language)

  • Extensive schedule of regular-season matches, eight MLS Cup playoff matches, and MLS Cup each season
  • One match per week featuring a Canadian club
  • Leagues Cup: 12 Group Stage and four Round of 32 matches each tournament
  • Highlight rights, editorial coverage, and cross-marketing support

RDS (Canada – French language)

  • Extensive schedule of regular-season matches, eight MLS Cup playoff matches, and MLS Cup each season
  • One match per week featuring a Canadian club
  • Leagues Cup: Three Group Stage and four Round of 32 matches on RDS
  • Highlight rights, editorial coverage, and cross-marketing support

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