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Saturday, February 24, 2024
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Rising Viewership to Impact New MLS Broadcasting Deal

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks

Major League Soccer’s eight-year broadcasting rights deals with Disney’s ESPN, Fox, and Univision expire at the end of the 2022 season.

As it considers new contracts, the league will be able to use its rising viewership as collateral to negotiate for a much higher payday — it currently receives $90 million per year. 

More than 12 media companies have reportedly expressed interest already, including Amazon, Apple, WarnerMedia, and ViacomCBS

The league moved from the 13th-most popular league in 2019 to the seventh-most popular this year, according to a survey by MoffettNathanson.

  • In 2021, national MLS broadcasts grew 3% from 2019 to an average of 285,000 viewers per game across Fox, Disney, and Univision.
  • Midseason, ABC/ESPN reported that year-over-year viewership rose 50%, Fox/FS1 increased 14%, and Univision/UniMas grew 21%. 

MLS also reportedly has the youngest fan base in North American pro sports.

Future of MLS

Previously, MLS sold its broadcasting deals for local, national, and international audiences separately, but will look to bundle them in one package going forward.

The league is also aiming to lock down a 30th team in the next 10 months. Two other teams begin play in 2023; another new addition would start after that season.

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