FOX Sports May Be Interested In Bidding For MLS, USMNT and Bundesliga TV Rights

FOX Soccer host Rob Stone said today that FOX Sports is interested in expanding its coverage of soccer to include more leagues (after losing the Premier League rights to NBC). Plus, Stone dropped a major hint that FOX may be interested in bidding on US media rights to Major League Soccer, the US men’s national team and Bundesliga games when the rights deals are up for bidding.

In an exclusive interview with the Awful Announcing website, Stone said:

“My gut is telling me, and I honestly have no insight into this, that sooner than later we will have the properties to a [soccer] league [back on FOX Sports], whether that is a year or two down the road. But it’s not like once we got out of the Premier League game, we said ‘That’s it. We’re done with [soccer] leagues.’ The MLS and US men’s national team [rights] deal is coming up momentarily. There’s suddenly a lot of eyes on the Bundesliga for what they achieved in the Champions League last year.

“Leagues come and go. And I think that FOX certainly has their eye on increasing their soccer library.”

Bidding for the US TV rights to Major League Soccer will begin this Fall.

What’s your opinion regarding what Rob Stone says? Would you welcome Major League Soccer returning to FOX’s airwaves, or are you concerned about how FOX would handle MLS given the criticism FOX received the last time they shared the rights to the top flight American league? And if FOX doesn’t bid for the rights to MLS, who will? Given poor TV ratings, do you think ESPN or NBC Sports would be bothered putting in strong bids next time? Have your say in the comments section below.

30 thoughts on “FOX Sports May Be Interested In Bidding For MLS, USMNT and Bundesliga TV Rights”

  1. Does the rights to the MLS or any league for that matter automatically go to the highest bidder or can the league choose whichever bid they like.

    1. They can choose who they like. During the last cycle of bidding for MLS rights, FOX Sports bid more but MLS decided to go with NBC Sports instead along with ESPN.

    2. MLS can choose whatever bid they like. Some leagues are obligated to take the high bid, but not MLS. NBC actually bid less than FOX did for this current contract, but NBC gave assurances that games would be in more markets and the production would be better.

    3. The Gaffer can correct me about this, but IIRC – Fox actually made a higher bid for the last round of MLS rights than NBC. Although the MLS went with NBC for among other factors, games being aired on the main NBC network.

      So that suggests with the MLS at least, the highest bid doesn’t always necessary get the rights

  2. I’m sure they’re interested. After all, they need product for Fox Sports 1.

    The potential for Fox and NBC to bid against each other for the USMNT/MLS rights has to have Don Garber rubbing his hands with glee.

    It may again come down to which network can promise the largest potential audience. In that case, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of importance they attach to the sport, since both have networks that need airtime filled.

    1. I’m not so sure that NBC would bid for USMNT/MLS rights. USMNT is an attractive property, yes, but NBC may wait to see how the Premier League does for them first before considering investing a ton of more money.

      Garber shouldn’t be rubbing his hands with glee. He should be pretty worried instead.

      1. if i were FOX, i’d avoid MLS and go all in on the USMNT. there’s more american loyalty to the national team than the crappy MLS league or their teams.

        and wait for 3 years before pouncing on the EPL rights again.

        1. SUM (Soccer United Marketing) in the past have bundled the US and MLS rights together and are expected to do so again.

          US Soccer provides some high profile games and MLS provides a significant number of programming hours.

          They provide a nicer story for the networks together than they do individually.

      2. I would expect the author of the article to know that NBC already owns MLS TV rights and that SUM packages MLS and USMNT rights together.

        Also, MLS draws the highest ratings on NBCSN after the NHL.

  3. I say well played to Garber. Just when the war is on for TV rights between the big 3 of ESPN, FOX, AND NBC the MLS package is up MLS is coming on with a new big time team and has its eyes on the Florida market.

    Lucky for MLS that the interest in the USNMT has soared at the right time and with the new EPL contract soccer will be a regular fixture on free network tv. The real sign of success in America. The only question in my mind is how committed is ESPN? With the WC going to Fox after 2014 will they continue to invest in the sport. ESPN still is the major player for sports on TV in the US and their policy of ignoring sports they do not cover is well know. FOX appears to want to take them on in a way NBC does not.

    In any event the end of FSC is now clearly the end of the beginning in the story of soccer coverage in the US and the rest of the story will be exciting.

    1. Considering Fox basically ignored both MLS and the Budesliga when they had them originally it’s safe to say Fox will have to pay a premium to get them back.

      As is noted in other comments, MLS left money on the table from Fox and chose NBC. That says it all.

  4. I hope that MLS will look to drop In Demand’s Direct Kick with their next deal and do a deal like the NBC/Premier League where all games are available to watch live anywhere. Of course markets that have MLS teams would have the ability to sell their own local TV rights.

    How much money does Direct Kick/MLS online platform actually make for the league? I would think that whoever is bidding for the league can make it worth the leagues while to offer more exposure and more money than what their current deal offers. With at least 3 bidders and the sports TV rights bubble not bursting yet MLS is lined up for another nice increase from their last deal.

    1. You can already watch games live anywhere. It’s called MLS Live. And the national TV games on NBC are already on NBC’s online channel.

  5. The same Fox Soccer which ignored Bayern Munich in the Champions League until they met an English club…yawn. I really hope Fox Sports shows the best/competitive match of each matchday rather than showing the Chelsea vs. Nordsjaelland type games just because an EPL club will give them some extra viewers.

    I know it’s probably not possible, but hopefully somebody in the states can pick up the ‘Bundesliga Konferenz” show. I stream that every week, its basically a simulcast of every Saturday afternoon kickoff in Germany and they go to each match every few minutes leading into the late afternoon kickoff. I know NBCSN did this with the MLS, have no clue why the EPL haven’t done it yet. Pretty much every top league in Europe is doing this now.

    1. While Bundesliga Konferenz is nice and I have watched it. I do prefer full length games. Budesliga Konferenz goes back a long way in Germany. But some of us enjoy watching a full game lol.

  6. I would like them to get Bundesliga. Currently Gol TV holds the rights where I live, and I’m not much of a fan of Gol TV.

  7. I seriously doubt Knob Stone knows what is going on.. He even admitted his bosses wouldn’t even confirm to him the existence of Fox Sports 2, so I doubt he knows their next five year strategy for soccer. Lets all hope it’s less.

    I love the PR job he was giving about Gus Johnson..still defending the so urgent need for the “American voice in soccer”. Still apologizing for him.. Giving the “work in progress” line still… And then he says same would have happened to Martin Tyler? Huh.. This stupid American argument doesn’t fly..

    This from a company that just hired two Canadians to front their national flagship sports program. Idiots


  8. It’s certainly not inconceivable that MLS could end up back on FOX – the league risks getting squeezed out by NASCAR on NBCSN. But if the Premier League does well on NBC, MLS may prefer to remain w/ NBC and ride the EPL wave

    1. Good points, but while I think there’ll be an EPL wave, I don’t think it’ll carry over to MLS games.

  9. MLS may not have high ratings, but now with so many different sports networks, live programming is critical which raises MLS’ value. Other than Baseball not much is going on in the summer. My gut says MLS stays with NBC and ESPN for a similar deal content wise, but for a bit more than they are getting now.

  10. Having Fox go after MLS will only help MLS, if anything a Fallback in case NBC doesn’t really want to go forward after the current deal is done. But don’t expect a serious Bidding type thing at all on MLS. as far as Im concerned MLS and USSF are solid for TV rights regardless in Comin years…. FOX should try their hardest to Land the Bundesliga and Holland if they are open too.

    1. FOX Sports has the U.S. rights to the Dutch Eredivisie locked up for the next 11 seasons.

      The U.S. rights to the Eredivisie were sold by IMG to ESPN, Inc. before FOX bought a 51% stake in the marketing arm of Eredivisie.

      As a result, ESPN, Inc. still holds U.S. rights to the Eredivisie for the current season. ESPN, Inc. then swapped some Eredivisie matches to GOLTV in exchange for some Brazilian league matches.

  11. The U.S. rights to the Bundesliga isn’t worth that much money.

    GOLTV, Inc. reportedly paid only $1 million/season for the rights to the Bundesliga in both the U.S. and Canada.

    That means if FOX (or anyone else) wants to blow GOLTV away for those rights, then GOLTV doesn’t stand any chance of renewal.

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