Prior to Lionel Messi’s arrival in Major League Soccer, there was little to no desire from foreign broadcasters to acquire rights to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Despite the competition’s impressive 108-year history, it did not have any sort of draw. Even domestically, there was not a heightened interest in broadcasting the tournament with Turner Sports handing off the duties to CBS Sports.

That all changes with arguably the greatest player of all time on the field alongside some of his superstar teammates. Lionel Messi has made waves since joining Inter Miami. His games, while mainly on MLS Season Pass, have pulled in massive in-person and at-home audiences. Those at-home audiences could grow further with these international deals, even if none of it would be through Major League Soccer.

US Soccer, the organization that operates and broadcasts the US Open Cup, announced more direct-to-consumer streaming. A deal with global sports marketing agency SPORTFIVE is growing the US Open Cup’s presence across five continents. In total, 20 international broadcasters will air games across more than 100 countries.

Of course, the main reason for this revamped international interest is the fact that Lionel Messi is playing in the US Open Cup semifinals. Before the Leagues Cup success for Inter Miami, this was Messi’s best chance to win silverware with his new club in his maiden season. These international deals for the Open Cup start with the competition’s semifinals on Wednesday, Aug. 23. Inter Miami will feature at TQL Stadium against FC Cincinnati.

US Open Cup secures international and domestic streaming deals

Domestically, the US Open Cup has found a home, too. The free streaming channel CBS Sports Golazo Network will have coverage of both semifinals. Streaming is also available on Paramount+. This is similar to earlier rounds of the tournament, which were also on the CBS Sports Golazo Network.

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The Final is not for another month on Sep. 27. However, CBS will also have coverage of that game. International broadcasters streaming the semifinals will broadcast the Final, too. However, the hope for those streaming partners is that Inter Miami at least wins the semifinal. That way, Messi and company can play in the Final for millions of viewers across the globe to watch.

Notably, this money does not go to MLS. As US Soccer owns the broadcast rights to the US Open Cup, Messi’s appearance has done well for the US Soccer Federation, not simply the league the Argentine plays in.

PHOTO: IMAGO & MediaPunch