Friday September 22, 2023
The Best Employers in Sports Survey is Now Open!

MLS, Fox Sports Teaming Up For New Esports Series

  • New effort from MLS and Fox Sports will see professional soccer players and professional FIFA players team up.
  • MLS's eMLS esports initiative is now in its third season.
Mar 30, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Philadelphia Union player doolsta (Cormac Dooley) reacts during the eMLS Cup event at The Castle at Park Plaza . Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Front Office Sports Today

How Rupert Murdoch Changed Sports Media Forever

As he steps down as chair of Fox and News Corp., we discuss his monumental and ongoing impact.
Listen Now
September 22, 2023 | Podcast
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

MLS will bring its eMLS esports initiative to linear television to not only engage fans during the league’s hiatus but also to further support coronavirus-related relief efforts.

The five-episode series will be known as the eMLS Tournament Special, and air on FS1 on Sundays. It will see MLS players team up with the eMLS player from their club, facing off with other clubs from across the league. MLS Works, the league’s social responsibility platform, and FOX Sports will make donations on behalf of each matchup’s winner to Feeding America, as well as Food Banks Canada.

Participating players include LA Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Orlando City’s Nani, and D.C. United’s Paul Arriola, among others. Each MLS player will face off in a one-on-one, while the two eMLS participants will then face each other, with the winners of each match facing off to close out the broadcast.

eMLS was in its third season this year, which is played in EA Sports’ FIFA video game. Nearly all of MLS’s clubs have individual participants in the esports effort, which sees competitors face off in tournaments and other events. There is also a larger competitive esports ecosystem around FIFA that eMLS players also participate in.

While eMLS players have continued to compete in friendly matches and other competitions while MLS is on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, eMLS also had to postpone its top completion, the eMLS Cup, which was set to be played at the now-canceled South by Southwest.

READ MORE: NASCAR Virtual Races Pave Way for Esports Expansion

MLS Senior Vice President of Media Seth Bacon said that as the league has had to put its season on pause, it is “critically important to stay connected to fans and provide engaging content to our fanbase at a time they need it the most.”

This new esports tournament is part of MLS’s MLS Unites initiative, a league-wide platform aiming to educate communities, entertain fans, and celebrate local heroes who are stepping up during the pandemic. That includes a variety of different content efforts like classic matches, player chats, and at-home workouts.

Bacon said the league had been figuring how ways to bring fans more MLS-related content and was trying to figure out what it could do with eMLS. At the same time, Fox Sports was also brainstorming that idea, and pitched the league on an esports competition that would feature MLS players. The two sides came up with this idea, which Bacon said would allow for the league to “showcase the stars from both MLS and eMLS.”

MLS will look to create a bevy of content around the two-hour television shows, including highlights, recaps, and analysis. The broadcast will not only feature live play-by-play but will also have virtual sideline reporters discussing what the players are saying in their respective living rooms.

eMLS events have done relatively well in previous Twitch broadcasts – the league has said that its League Series One event in January accumulated more than 1.1 million views on Twitch. Bacon said this new series could attract a large viewing audience as well on linear television, blending traditional MLS fans with esports fans with viewers keen on watching any sports competition.

READ MORE: College Esports to Carry On in Now-Crowded Online Space

However, Bacon stated, the league only has one measurement in mind when it comes to launching this new series: “The most important thing is how can we provide compelling content to people when they’re struggling across the board, and people are dealing with stressors they have never contemplated in their lives,” he said.

“We want to do our part to take their minds off that for two hours for five straight weeks, that’s our measurement of success,” Bacon said.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Deion Sanders and The Rock

Deion Sanders Reshaping College Football Fanbase With Buffaloes Surge

Deion Sanders has made Colorado "Black America's Team."
USL Championship side Oakland Roots home soccer field

As Sports Teams Exit Bay Area, Pro Soccer Gains Notable Win

The USL club Oakland Roots could be close to building a new stadium.
Spain women's national soccer team players celebrate with the World Cup trophy after their victory in the 2023 Women's World Cup.

Spain Women’s Soccer Players Agree to End National Team Boycott

The RFEF will make “immediate and profound” changes to its structure.

Saudi Pro League Has Long Way To Go Despite Spending Spree

The league's revenue still trails far behind its European counterparts.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

How Rupert Murdoch Changed Sports Media Forever


Featured Today

Warriors Stake Reportedly Up For Sale at $7B Valuation

A 10% stake in the franchise could cost $700 million.
September 22, 2023

Jaguars Threaten Move Without $1B From Jacksonville Taxpayers

The Jagaurs are hoping to renovate TIAA Bank Field for $2 billion.
Deion Sanders on College GameDay
September 22, 2023

ESPN Beats Rival Fox in Deion Sanders Bowl

ESPN’s “College GameDay” more than doubled the audience of Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff” in Boulder.
Stacy Lewis tees off on the seventeenth hole during the first round of the CPKC Women's Open golf tournament at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club.
September 22, 2023

In Ryder Cup’s Shadow, Solheim Cup Captain Laments ‘Missed Opportunity’

U.S. captain Stacy Lewis criticized the lack of cross-promotion and marketing.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Chicago Cubs
New York
Tri Star Sports and Entertainment Group, Inc.
USA - Multiple Locations
NBC will reportedly pay $287 million annually across five years to air broadcast on USA Network.

NBC Inks WWE SmackDown Rights for Reported $1.4 Billion

The reported rights fee is about 40% higher than SmackDown's Fox deal.
September 20, 2023

Can Amazon Keep Up NFL Viewership Boost After Record Week 1?

The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants face off on Thursday night.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is tripped up by New York Jets defensive end Solomon Thomas in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium.
September 20, 2023

NFL Viewership Sees 2% Increase in First Two Weeks of 2023 Season

The NFL is experiencing its highest viewership since 2018.
September 19, 2023

WBD Pursues ‘Different’ Strategy For Sports on Max

Company to place all of its live sports on new streaming tier
Deion Sanders
September 19, 2023

Colorado's Epic Victory Sets New ESPN Prime Time Viewership Record

Coach Prime Deion Sanders delivered in prime time on ESPN.
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
September 18, 2023

'Monday Night Football' Returns To ABC Amid Entertainment Breakdown

ABC will simulcast 15 regular season "Monday Night Football" games.
September 15, 2023

DSG Looks To Use NHL Kings Deal As Reorganization Model

Agreement arrives as bankrupt RSN operator nears deadline for reorganization plan
September 14, 2023

Netflix Fatigue May Be Hitting Sports Docuseries

Netflix cameras won't have full access at the Ryder Cup.