For the first time since the 2014 FIFA World Cup, ABC will broadcast a soccer match on its over-the-channel to viewers in the United States.
The 2019 MLS Cup Final will get the honors when the game will air live on both ABC and Univision on Sunday, November 10 from 3PM ET. Executives will be hoping that the viewership on ABC will be an increase on the 2.2 million who watched the 1997 MLS Cup Final on ABC.
As mentioned on several episodes of the World Soccer Talk Podcast this year, ESPN executives had been mulling over the possibility of broadcasting an Italian Serie A match on the over-the-air ABC channel as early as last year. But Major League Soccer not Serie A will be the first to benefit from the elevated profile and increased audience opportunity.
ABC, the broadcast network of the Walt Disney Company, was the exclusive home of MLS Cup during Major League Soccer’s first 13 years (1996-2008). In all, 21 of the 23 previous MLS Cup matches have aired on ABC or ESPN since the league’s inception. ESPN has televised the championship match for eight of the last 10 seasons.
“ABC has a rich history of soccer coverage, including MLS Cup for more than a decade in the early years of Major League Soccer. We are excited to once again showcase the league’s marquee event on the network,” said Burke Magnus, Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling, ESPN.
ESPN’s top MLS commentator team of Jon Champion and Taylor Twellman will call the MLS Cup on ABC.
In related news, ESPN announced this week that they’ve extended their agreement with USL until 2022 to broadcast the second and third division games for three more years.
The new agreement will see a three-fold rise in the number of games televised annually on ESPN’s networks, including the addition of Spanish-language telecasts on ESPN Deportes, as well as continued expansive coverage on ESPN+.
“We are thrilled to continue with ESPN and ESPN+,” said USL Executive Vice President Court Jeske. “USL is an organization that aims to put the fans first and we know that supporters across the country will be very pleased with this new three-year agreement and the exposure it brings.”
The relationship between the USL and ESPN will enter its fifth full year in 2020 as the league celebrates its 10th anniversary season. Under the new agreement, 18 regular-season games from the Championship will air on ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU or ESPN Deportes annually in addition to the USL Championship Final. All other matches will be streamed live on ESPN+