The United Soccer League and CBS Sports have reached a landmark agreement to bring the second and third tiers of American men’s professional soccer to their biggest stage yet.
On Tuesday, the league and broadcaster announced a multiyear deal to air 100 USL Championship and USL League One matches annually through 2027.
CBS Sports will select a handful of USL matches, including the USL Championship Final, to air on its main CBS channel each season — marking the first time the league will be presented on network television.
The deal also includes 20 matches on CBS Sports Network and 75 matches on CBS Sports Golazo Network each season. CBS and Golazo Network matches will be simulcast on Paramount+.
“CBS Sports has become a destination for soccer fans in America, and we are thrilled to bring to their platforms the unique soccer experience that only the USL provides,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “We are entering a new, exciting phase, both on and off the field, and we look forward to working with CBS Sports over the next four years to take our leagues and our game to new heights.”
A CBS Sports source told Front Office Sports that following the launch of Golazo Network last spring, the company began considering acquiring more soccer rights. When it saw a viewership bump for its presentations of the U.S. Open Cup — with an assist from Lionel Messi and Inter Miami — the USL rights became much more attractive.
The USL’s current media deal with ESPN has shown more games per season — with all 620 between the Championship and League One going on at least ESPN+ — but the Disney-owned property never elevated the leagues to network television on ABC.
The 2023 USL Championship Final will be contested between Charleston Battery and Phoenix Rising on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.