FOX and ESPN are close to securing a landmark 8-year deal to acquire US media rights to the US Men’s National Team and Major League Soccer games, generating a whopping $560M in revenue between the two US soccer bodies, according to an industry publication.
The parties are in advanced negotiations, but a deal is expected to be signed and announced next week at the MLS Draft in Philadelphia.
As part of the 8-year deal, FOX and ESPN would share rights to the US Men’s National Team home games as well as all MLS games for 2015-2022, which would include both TV and Internet rights. The deal, according to Sports Business Daily, could average $70million a year.
Currently, US media rights for USMNT-MLS coverage generates approximately $27million a year — spread between ESPN, NBC and Univision.
In comparison, NBC Sports Group paid approximately $250million for the US media rights to Premier League 2013-2016 seasons, averaging $83million a year.
TV ratings for MLS, which are worse than the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), have been dismal. For the 2013 MLS regular season, MLS TV ratings on NBC were down 8% compared to the previous year, while they were down 29% for ESPN.
However, MLS benefits greatly from having its US media rights packaged with the TV and Internet rights for the US Men’s National Team, which delivers significantly greater TV ratings and interest among soccer fans nationwide.
NBC, meanwhile, released a statement about pulling out of the bidding process for MLS-USMNT rights, saying “We’ve enjoyed our partnership with MLS. Don Garber and his team are building something very positive, and we wish them well.”
NBCSN’s 37 games averaged 112,000 viewers during the 2013 MLS season.