NBC agrees three-year deal with MLS for TV rights

Garber - Getty

By CALEB SONNELAND

45 Major League Soccer games and four US Men's National Team matches per season.

That's the television rights deal that NBC reached with the MLS today.  NBC outbid Fox Soccer Channel for the rights to the MLS package. FSC currently has the rights for the remainder of 2011.

NBC will televise two regular season MLS games, two playoff games and two appearances by the USMNT, while the NBC Sports Network (currently VERSUS) will broadcast 38 regular-season games, three playoff games and two USMNT matches. Each televised game with have a pre and post-game session.

MLS is one of the fastest growing leagues in the country, and the agreement marks the first time four MLS matches will be broadcast on English language channel television since 2002.  

MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO Don Garber and Jon Miller, the president of programming of NBC Sports and VERSUS, will be available during a press conference at Lincoln Financial Field at 7:30pm ET prior to the USMNT match against Mexico.

Mark Lazarus - NBC Sports Group Chairman

“Everyone at the NBC Sports Group is thrilled to begin this partnership with Major League Soccer,” said Lazarus. “MLS is a perfect fit for our new group, and we are uniquely positioned to help grow soccer in the United States with extensive coverage on NBC Sports Network, significant programming on the broadcast network and our growing digital platforms. Additionally, this agreement complements the partnerships that five of our regional sports networks have with their local MLS teams.”

Don Garber - MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO

“Our new partnership with the NBC Sports Group is a significant step forward for Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer,” said MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO Don Garber.  “The NBC Sports Group is world-renowned for its award-winning coverage, superb broadcast quality and promotional expertise. We are excited to be part of NBC’s ambitious plans for soccer, and look forward to reaching a considerable audience on multiple platforms.”

—————-

What do you think of the agreement? Glad to have another channel to watch your MLS matches?  How fast is the sport of soccer rising in the United States?

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188 Responses to NBC agrees three-year deal with MLS for TV rights

  1. nice says:

    Oh snap

  2. jeff says:

    In addition to FSC or instead of?

  3. Ski Fast! says:

    Wow!!

  4. Good for the sport. Hopefully, this will help keep kids interested beyond U12.

  5. Astorian says:

    Is this in place of ESPN/ABC or in addition to?

  6. Mario H says:

    This is not NBC national TV, this is the Versus cable channel that nobody knows about. This had to happen with the lack of dedication by FSC, whose soccer season hasn’t started yet….

  7. Ski Fast! says:

    Wait, will this be replacing ESPN’s coverage of MLS? I hope it will replace FSC. The USMNT games are an interesting addition to note.

  8. Sam says:

    Bring back HDNet, Mark Cuban….beautiful picture

  9. Johnny Too Bad says:

    Instead of

  10. Johnny Too Bad says:

    NBC as well

  11. Johnny Too Bad says:

    Replacing FSC, ESPN will continue

  12. haha says:

    This is great news. Luckily I have Versus HD for free, unlike FSC.

  13. Ski Fast! says:

    That is GREAT news. The more MLS gets on network TV and cables channels people actually have, the better it is for the sport in this country.

  14. Jason B says:

    In place of FSC, in addition to ESPN I believe.

  15. Max says:

    OMG!! This is like Christmas in August!! Gotta love that NBC gives some love to non-top 3 sports also (hockey,soccer).

  16. Oliver says:

    4 games? Big Deal

  17. maka says:

    versus, meh

  18. Jason B says:

    I’m interested in finding out how much the deal is worth.

  19. Steve C says:

    Who doesn’t know about Versus?! They air the NHL. To sum up the difference between VS & FSC…. I have VS HD’s channel, while I still do not have FSCHD.

  20. Bobby says:

    Soooooo we won’t get to see the continuous replaying of Bloodsport on Versus anymore? What a sad sad day…Lol

    Good for the MLS! This is good news for the league and hopefully more people will be exposed to the MLS…

  21. arwlin777 says:

    I’m assuming this replaces FSC hopefully, and not ESPN. Seeing that it says NBC will cover 2 MLS playoff games, and no mention of covering MLS Cup or the All Star game, I assume ESPN still has those. Was never a fan of FSC, hopefully NBC can do somewhat better. ESPN is still needed for their exposure.

  22. KJ says:

    Finally it’s on a channel more people get included in their TV package. This should help a lot.

  23. Matt in Detroit says:

    Any chance this will mean actual money to the teams?

    The Previous contracts probably amount to less than $1,000,000 per team and most of that stayed with the league.

    Just wondering if this will help the struggling teams and possibly lead to a higher salary cap.

  24. Johnny Too Bad says:

    Great news indeed. This is huge. Versus/NBS has twice the viewership as FSC and the 2 league, 2 playoff, and 2 USMNT matches on NBC are gonna bring great exposure to the league/sport.

  25. Ski Fast! says:

    It’ll be interesting to see who they hire to be their main play-by-play announcer. I’m thinking is they’ll go with JPD since he’s seasoned, no longer works for ESPN, already does the FSC games, and has worked for NBC more than once calling soccer matches during the Olympics.

  26. Johnny Too Bad says:

    10 million a year

  27. RSLfan says:

    Though this deal in many ways “replaces” the deal with FSC, a quote from Garber makes it seem like they could still do yet another deal with FSC. “…this was not a negative statement about Fox Soccer, it’s a positive statement about NBC Sports and its newly branded network. Fox has done a terrific job promoting sport, and we hope to keep working with them.”

  28. Johnny Too Bad says:

    That’s 4 more than we’ve had for the last 9 years…

  29. RK says:

    Ok USA!

  30. tom says:

    This is great news. The Fox Soccer Channel crowd already knows about MLS and, to a large degree, thumb their nose at it in favor of EPL and other elite leagues abroad. So instead of placing MLS on a channel that is only watched by soccer fans MLS is now on a channel with a broader audience. The fact that Versus is also attempting to become NBC’s answer to ESPN could be an awesome thing if MLS is one of their marquee sports. I think this is a great thing for continuing to build a broader support…Does anyone have the breakdown of homes with Versus vs FSC?

  31. Bobby says:

    +1

    Weirdest looking dude ever that says that…

  32. JJ says:

    Versus is WAAAAYYYY better than FSC. WAAAAYYYYY more households have Versus. Fantastic move by MLS!

  33. Todd says:

    Buy the Revs, Mark!

  34. Jason B says:

    About a half million for each team, not too bad.

  35. Yuri says:

    FSC is rebranding to ESC…Eurosnob Soccer Channel

  36. 20 says:

    We want Ian Darke!

  37. Mick says:

    Now can we lift the salary cap a bit???

  38. Mike O says:

    Growth is good. Just the financial shot in the arm the league needed and games on NBC might attract more and more “casual” fans to the league and the game. Congratulations to MLS on all the hard work!

  39. Dave says:

    Hopefully the added competition will persuade ESPN to get rid of Harkes and Twellman. Both NBC and ESPN should invest in guys like Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe.

  40. 20 says:

    Someone on Allen Hopkins’ facebook said 76 million for Versus, 39 million for FSC

  41. Ski Fast! says:

    He’s kinda contracted by ESPN at the moment :]

  42. Matt says:

    Can only help the league. The goal should be to get a big deal in 2014 when these deals expire.

    The league is getting healthier in a lot of ways. Lets hope it continues!

    Long ogne are the days of the league paying to be on tv.

  43. Ski Fast! says:

    Actually, can Doc Emrick call soccer games? :p

  44. Dave says:

    Not because they are British but because they are good analysts.

  45. Rev up those Revs says:

    Yes please!! Not realistic though.

  46. Kelly Goosecock says:

    True that. Fox lost a lot of casual fans and poor people (myself included) earlier in the summer by only showing the Gold Cup on FSC.

  47. Rev up those Revs says:

    My dorm doesn’t get either FSC or Versus, neither do hotel rooms for the most part. Still good overall. Baby steps.

  48. Ski Fast! says:

    Hopefully the league will begin to cool it in terms of expansion so that the level of play can be bolstered and built back up again. It will make for a more attractive product to put on for a growing audience.

  49. Vinny says:

    You can thank Comcast for all this.

  50. Ted says:

    Now it’s time to lift that cap and add another DP

  51. Franc says:

    You cool it…Vancouver is a fun team to watch and already competitive

  52. DL says:

    Dude, Bloodsport is a great film.

  53. Jason B says:

    The thing about soccer is that adding more teams to the league isn’t really going to hurt the quality considering there’s a theoretically endless supply of MLS quality soccer players around the world.

  54. Evan says:

    No more Christopher Sullivan!!!!

  55. Sam from PDX says:

    Its cute to say that “nobody” knows about Versus, or that people can’t find the channel. I don’t believe that MLS’s target demographic includes people who don’t know about Versus. And people who can’t find a channel probably shouldn’t be operating any type of electronic equipment. This is the greatest contract MLS has ever landed; the deal is even sweeter now that Versus is re-branding to NBC Sports.

  56. Aaron in StL says:

    Bad news for FSC. Only a matter of time before the big networks make them irrelevant. ESPN will be chomping at the bit for more EPL coverage as well.

    Soon FSC will be only for re-runs and Aussie League matches.

  57. 21 says:

    Nah, Bob Bradley with his sparkling personality would be much better.

  58. Aaron in StL says:

    Versus supposedly changing to “NBC Sports” or something eventually too.

    VS much more likely to be part of a normal package than FSC as you said.

  59. Aaron in StL says:

    Code for, “Step ya game up and open those wallets, Fox.”

  60. Aaron in StL says:

    Also no more Wynalda stumbling through pre-game commentary and referring to Cobi Jones as “HOFer” Cobi Jones 5 times per minute

  61. Haber says:

    Euro****

  62. Hood Rich says:

    The last time I saw soccer on NBC was the ’86 World Cup. They showed a handful of games and the final. Remember watching Canada – USSR and how crappy them Canucks were. Also, Shamus Malin was one of the hosts of the broadcasts.

    Been a long time…

  63. Doesnt Garber know how to negotiate better than 4 games in an entire season? MLS is skyrocketing! and we only get 4 games? He should have made them take 40 games or leave it and head elsewhere.

  64. Suint says:

    What? Cobi is legendary

  65. RCTID says:

    Agreed. Include Alexi and Balboa to all those mentioned above. Maybe they should just copy ROOT and have Arlo White by himself or Ian Darke by himself

  66. Russell says:

    Does Directv have verses? I thought there was a contract issue there..

    If the answer is yes and MLS does do a deal with FSC (who just put a lot of money into improving production), this is a clear big win.

  67. RCTID says:

    I don’t know, I think this fits the slow growth model that is good for MLS. The on-the-field product is not ready for the bright national spotlight. Maybe in 5-10 years.

  68. Toscano says:

    So no more MLS games on Fox Sports en Español??? that sux…

  69. matt says:

    the cap is already going to increase over the next 3 years. its going to be 10-15 years before we will have no cap or a softer cap than they already have. too many bottom feeders in the league that have no sponsor and no attendance. (columbus, dallas, new england etc)

  70. Stan says:

    eurodouchy

  71. Mattbag212 says:

    Great move, right? For many cable providers, Versus/NBC Sports is a lateral move across the same expensive sports tier from Fox Soccer Channel. So in my experience (Charter) I only get access to either channel when I’m in college. No summer MLS for me.

    Also, let’s just screw ESPN which is on the basic package of every cable provider in the country.

    Obviously this deal had nothing to do with ratings or exposure and EVERYTHING to do with more money.

  72. Astorian says:

    Especially if you’re on Comcast, since NBC now owns Comcast.

  73. Dominghosa says:

    Bad for Fox Soccer. Versus (thank goodness they are going to change its name AGAIN, hopefully this time they’ll get it right) may go into more households but no one watches it. I’m skeptical but we’ll see.
    Great that soccer is going to show at least a few times on NBC. Nothing better than coverage from a major basic cable broadcast company.

  74. Mattbag212 says:

    Also you can kiss US Soccer coverage on ESPN goodbye. Look at how they treat hockey, the other Versus sport.

  75. dynaMOO says:

    Anybody else have Dish network, and notice you have to get the super mega bonus channel package to get Versus? bummer (someone prove me wrong please)

  76. Eric K says:

    Did you even read the article? NBC Sports will broadcast 43 MLS games and NBC itself will broadcast 4. Four MLS games on a broadcast network and 43 on a cable network that that is much bigger than FSC is a pretty good deal for the league if you ask me.

  77. Rico says:

    ESPN package remains…as far the commentary, it was never there to begin with. NBC Sports is going to force ESPN to step their soccer game up or get left behind.

  78. BCC says:

    I do not see this as much of a positive development. Versus has not been a good partner for the NHL by any standard. As an avid hockey fan, I can also say that Versus does not cover games very well (if you think Wynalda and Sullivan are bad, listen to “commentary” from Jeremy Roenick).

    This is the first step to an even better deal, hopefully.

  79. A2P says:

    Thank God you’re not in charge of matters like this.

  80. Randy Hu says:

    Dallas and Columbus need to remodel/maybe relocate the MLS 1.0 stadia & New England and DC need to build them.

  81. Sam says:

    It wont be Versus anymore next year…NBC looking to grow

  82. Red says:

    Who said Sullivan was bad…he is class. And VS NHL coverage is solid.

  83. Joe says:

    I thought Comcast owns NBC now?

  84. A2P says:

    Versus has had great rating for Male 18-40 demo on UFC nights, just a commercial or two during a live UFC card (albeit Versus never gets the greatest cards, they have had a few) will help expose the MLS to a large audience in homes and bars.

  85. Clover362 says:

    ESPN will still have it’s standard national team/MLS/EPL coverage, so this is in addition to. Only good for everybody

  86. curmudgeon says:

    How do you get that they’re “screwing” ESPN?

    Versus is in more homes than FSC; that’s just a fact.

  87. JJ says:

    How does CableTown play a part in this? I thought they were involved.

  88. acj says:

    They’re both owned by the Sheinhardt Wig Company.

  89. Charles says:

    LA Times is quote a person familiar saying $12 million

  90. Shane says:

    yeah I was hoping this meant the main NBC station. Only marginally better for MLS viewership than FSC.

  91. DC Josh says:

    I can finally quit paying $10 for FSC next year. Can’t wait!

  92. Tyler says:

    Dallas just opened Pizza Hut Park in 2005…

  93. chupacabra says:

    It’s channel 603 on Directv – top of their sports channel lineup.

  94. Jake says:

    It doesnt say that NBC Sports wont be $10

  95. Tyler says:

    I don’t think he read the article correctly judging by his previous comments

  96. Bobby says:

    Agreed. One of favorites…

  97. @itschappy says:

    I believe that’s KableTown with a K, right? #30Rock

  98. Ja Ja James says:

    I really don’t think FSC needs MLS. I’m sure the ratings were low and their bid reflected this. While I’m happy that the MLS will get some short term $$$, I’m unsure if this is good in the long term. That said, FSC will continue to short change MLS coverage on their Fox Soccer Report and may marginalize it even more. Just reading body language, you could see Bobby McMahon’s face just cringe when he had to analyze the prior weekends MLS action. For me personally, that gets old. I get it, the MLS is nowhere near the level of the top leagues, but it’s our game. Why the need to rub it in our face?

  99. chupacabra says:

    Sullivan is BAD! The damn guy can’t get through a game without mentioning Schelotto or Marcelo Gallardo even though both are long gone. I put on an Einsturzende Neubauten CD whenever I watch an MLS match on FSC.

  100. Colin says:

    Agreed. Also, Versus’ production value alone is miles above FSC.

  101. Twindo says:

    Sullivan is bad-azz

  102. ThaDeuce says:

    You know, they fit soccer in between pay per view soft core!

  103. STX81 says:

    Sweet! More air time for Fox Soccer Report reruns and infomercials on FSC!

  104. Sixpence says:

    Fox Soccer Report is the only MLS coverage on TV, but dedicated NBC Sports coverage should be much better. It seems like NBC really wants to compete with ESPN. The ESPN Yankee/Red Sox network douches still talk like it is 1993 the few times that they have to mention soccer. They are proud of not knowing a thing about the sport. Maybe they might have to really learn about the biggest sport in the world for once.

  105. chris says:

    Concacaf Champions League?

  106. Tyler says:

    Just hope NBC doesn’t feel the need to “dumb down” soccer on their coverage the way Fox does. I don’t need the pregame show to compare soccer to baseball, football, and basketball in the hopes that I can possible understand it. Go with the ESPN model, please. If that goes into effect, I’ll be quite happy.

    Four games on NBC is huge, too, considering I don’t have cable at all, and so I only get to see MLS when it’s on espn3.com right now.

  107. joe says:

    soccer coverage on espn has increased dramatically since the world cup. they do stories and highlights all the time. it is talked about on pti, around the horn, sports nation (although they make fun of it mostly). they are increasing games broadcasted for EPL, la liga, etc.

  108. Vin says:

    that doesn’t mean they cant refurbish it and put a roof on it

  109. joe says:

    you don’t want michael strahan to teach you about soccer? he’s an expert.

  110. marco says:

    they still talk like it is a foreigner sport, when there is the fastest growing league in their own country

  111. Jason B says:

    A lot of CCL games are available to stream for free on CONCACAF’s site.

  112. Justin says:

    Not sure how anyone cannot see this as a major win for MLS and the soccer Don. No, versus is not ESPN, but it is in a significantly larger portion of homes than FSC is and the broadcast quality is about a million times better. Versus actually has HD, its studio shows do not look like they are shot in someone’s basement and by making a 3 year commitment (rather than FSC’s continual 1 year deals), they will have some stake in actually promoting these games across their family of networks and helping to grow the sport.

    This is a major announcement and very exciting! I’m happy for MLS and american soccer. Still not going to drop my FSC subscription, but it will be awesome to have a post-game show that actually shows highlights of all the MLS games and provides analysis and commentary. Ives – maybe you should get that resume’ ready, NBC is hiring!!!

  113. Jason B says:

    Huh?

  114. kenneth says:

    +1

  115. Matt (NEF) says:

    Bobby McMahon is a blow hard.

    Fox Soccer Report always seams to lead of their MLS coverage with TFC & now Vanc coverage.

    Just pathetic IMO.

  116. abc says:

    I have FSC (which I pay extra for obv) but not Versus. :-(
    Hopefully Versus will become a standard channel now that NBC owns it, or part of the basic soccer channel package….

  117. The soccer revolution WILL BE TELEVISED!!!

  118. Don Garber is the man! from leading us through the dark days of contraction to a deal with NBC the league and soccer in general has grown leaps and bounds in the past 11 years!

  119. Mattbag212 says:

    Versus and FSC are typically on the same tier of fancy sports coverage that will never sniff a basic package.

  120. Mattbag212 says:

    ESPN will just ignore MLS altogether. Bad move by the MLS.

  121. Howley says:

    This is a huge coup is NBC Sports can compete with ESPN. I think there are a lot of people turned off by the current, force-fed, outdated ESPN setup. They are looking for an alternative. NBC could market itself as the global ESPN, the ESPN of the new century, or even the thinking man’s ESPN.

  122. Mattbag212 says:

    That’s all good and great for EPL and La Liga, but MLS will no longer be broadcasted on ESPN which means that ESPN will no longer cover MLS. Look at hockey as an example.

    I think people need to understand that this television contract is not a move up. If all of the games were on NBC, this contract would definitely be a move up. A sliver, a slight fraction, of the games will be on NBC. Just like the ABC/ESPN2 contract of yesteryear. The rest of the games will be a dot in the distance. MLS loses all of their ESPN2 “Game of the Week” ratings coverage, in exchange for a lateral move by the rest of the MLS coverage.

    So really they accomplished nothing for the growth of the sport except hopefully more money for the league coffers.

  123. NBSeeya SD says:

    Thank goodness.

    Goodbye crappy SD on FSC. Love you Ives but that network is lagging behind at a rapid rate for quality viewing.

  124. Santi says:

    ESPN still keeps their games….FSC is replaced

  125. hartley says:

    Six is not enough games on free TV. You want to grow the audience, you have to get more games on free TV. The NFL is still very strong there. And if the NFL dropped free TV networks? Well, people would watch something else.

  126. All says:

    There’s nothing wrong with the Sox/Yanks thing. I’ve found that there is room for all sports and there are more of me than there are of you and them.

  127. nam says:

    Yeah because a roof will make people attend games in Frisco.

  128. Ralph says:

    The NFL has networks dedicated to them. NBC Sports could provide that type of dedication. It just wasnt happening with Murdoch’s Fox. Free TV? In this day, who relies on this?

  129. hogatroge says:

    Inappropriate usage of the term “eurodouchy”

  130. scb says:

    You’re still ignoring that Versus is in way more homes than FSC. The thing you’re saying and the thing that’s an actual fact are different. Perhaps you might be generalizing your experience when it doesn’t apply to others.

  131. hogatroge says:

    Inappropriate use of the term “Euro****.”

  132. hogatroge says:

    “The thin you’re saying and the thing that’s an actual fact are diffierent.”

    lol

  133. hogatroge says:

    “…thing…”

  134. hogatroge says:

    Access to any NFL game is hardly free on TV.

    The only teams I get to see here in Houston are the Texans, Cowboys and sometimes the Saints.

  135. Powderhorn Pops says:

    +1

  136. abc says:

    In before some moron responds to this perfectly reasonable comment with “Eurodouche”…

  137. abc says:

    It’s hot as hell there during most of the MLS season, so yes?

  138. Powderhorn Pops says:

    dude, hate to be the one to say this but you are way off on your understanding of what’s going on.

  139. Andy in Atlanta says:

    The show is produced in Canada…eh

  140. Shark says:

    That contract issue was solved over a year ago…Its on Channel 603..there big sport is the NHL now and they show some college football….they do an excellent job on the NHL broadcast’s….

  141. FCD Fan says:

    Half the stadium is hell during the summer. A roof is worth it.

  142. Andy in Atlanta says:

    Versus is on Comcast in HD…. FSC is not… I am still undecided about this move but the fact is Versus in twice as many households…

  143. Does anyone else think this is a chance for Fox Soccer to bring more games from other countries?

  144. Andy in Atlanta says:

    More than you think actually, the OTA HD feeds are SICK CLEAR… that being said… I pay for everything because I don’t want to miss my footie…

    Think about this folks… 10 years ago… how did you watch soccer?

    Fox Sports World maybe?

    Now, ESPN networks (including ESPN3, Fox Family (Fox regular, FSC, FS+, Fox Sports Regional), GOLTV…Now NBC (Versus) too?

    All of the above in HD (with DirecTV)

    Sorry but we have come a long long way…

  145. Andy in Atlanta says:

    You also get 1 other national game a Sunday not to mention the NBC Sunday night football game… Sorry but there is amazing access to the NFL on free TV…

  146. tim says:

    Hmmm seems to me that i have both FSC channels in HD, maybe your service is lagging behind.

  147. Andy in Atlanta says:

    I would not be shocked if they start doing a lot more Serie A and Ligue 1

  148. Powderhorn Pops says:

    If I remember right the NHL had pretty much no options until Versus (then OLN) rebranded and picked it up. Don;t know where hockey would be without VS.

  149. Powderhorn Pops says:

    And the commentary is hysterical.

  150. Powderhorn Pops says:

    And Gol TV becomes more and more marginalized. NBC needs to pay the big bucks to Ray Hudson to get him out of his South Florida comfort zone. The man is the soccer’s version of John Madden. Give him a platform where the casual fan hears his commentary and the sport will grow leaps and bounds just like when Madden entered the commentary booth for the NFL.

  151. mistadobolina says:

    in addition too.. while ESPN is the best place for it, they present the games terribly .. too bad for FSC but the reason that they have low ratings is that its not included in tv packages, not the games!

    MLS and USSF games on NBC and VS is awesome!

  152. mistadobolina says:

    and ESPN/ABC.. don garber is a good media pimp at least..

  153. Mike Ufford says:

    I assume the two playoff games are the new ‘wild card’/play-in games for the lowest ranked teams that still qualify. ESPN should still cover the same amount of post season games, essentially everything after the wild card game through to the the final.

  154. mistadobolina says:

    seriously its getting out of hand with that stuff.. but personally i would like a non-english broadcaster.. American would be best but an Scottish accent would be interesting

  155. Mike Ufford says:

    Too bad Gus Johnson is contracted to CBS. I’d love to see him as the third commentator in a play-by-play-analyst / ex-player-color-commentator / guy-yelling-random-stuff-when-something-happens combo. It’d be as close to the iconic Latin ‘Gooooooaaaaall!’ call we can get without it being tacky.

  156. Bob says:

    I understand that Andy Gray is available.

  157. Bob says:

    I’m not sure that Mattbag read the article above.

  158. Aaron in StL says:

    I think they should consider getting a deal with SkyNet

  159. bottlcaps says:

    Before it was Versus, it was the OLN (The Outdoor Life network) giving you a steady diet of fishing, hunting, hiking, and the occasional Mountain Bike adventure. The then programming chief of the channel then took a chance and bought (for a song) the US rights for the Tour de France BEFORE Lance Armstrong became a legend and won seven tours. The revenue from those seven years when their ratings went through the roof, allowed them to buy the rights to the NHL (for a song) who were then “crippled” by the strike season. For a while OLN/Versus was the only nation-wide channel carrying NHL games. Then came the name change to Versus and more mainstream sports programming before a protracted battle with Comcast who wanted more money or off basic cable and basic satellite. Versus won! After the Comcast/NBC merger, NBC bought Versus to add some mainstream sports programming opposite of and in competition to; the local Fox Sports affiliates and the 800 lb gorilla in the room the Disney/ABC/ESPN networks.

    Before the NBC buyout, it was known that Versus was preparing for a bid for some kind of Soccer rights. With NBC backing, we see the fruits of this.

    The old OLN/Versus people were crazy like a fox and created a great revenue stream with the odd event like the TdF and the “cast-off” NHL. This is their niche, they find good and interesting sports programming, but it for a (comparative) song and market, market, market and make money.

    There is no doubt to me they will be good to the MLS.

  160. Jason B says:

    Seriously! What is with some of these people and that phrase? And this guy provides no explanation for why I am a “eurodouche” or whatever he wants to call me…

  161. Jason B says:

    Doh! double post

  162. Sonicdeathmonkey says:

    Perhaps you should actually, ya know, read the friggin’ article before deciding to post an uninformed post and confirm your stupidity. Just sayin’.

    As for the news, this is welcome. With NBC getting behind Versus (NBC Sports Network), this will no doubt raise the profile of the league on a national level. Well done, MLS!

  163. Sonicdeathmonkey says:

    Dear Matt,

    Get a clue.

    Signed,

    All of us that can actually read

  164. Northzax says:

    Versus is standard on Comcast, FSC is extra. Versus is actually channel 7 for me, right next to the ESPNs and Comcast SportsNet. So it’s all good in DC at least.

  165. Skinn says:

    Ives, part your rationale in moving from ESPN to FSC was that you were impressed with the vision FSC had for soccer coverage in North America. Does this announcement change your thinking at all?

  166. Leon says:

    So, a new network not to watch on

  167. Uno says:

    Yes, Gus rocks

  168. Devo says:

    NBC should buy out GolTV altogether…Hudson and his partner know the American game well…they could be the Madden/Summerall of NBC/MLS

  169. BCC says:

    The NHL signed with Versus out of desperation. ESPN tried to lowball them, so they took a bad deal from an obscure network.

    Hockey is still recovering from the work stoppage. I will say, however, the Versus is a better network because of the new connections with Comcast/NBC. If MLS had more leverage, they could have demanded more games on NBC. Doesn’t seem to be a ton of first-rate sports action on Saturday afternoons (if you’re not watching European football or, what, golf? Maybe the odd baseball game?).

  170. Johnny Too Bad says:

    Will still be on FSC.

  171. SBI Troll says:

    Actually he moved to FOX in the offseason. Maybe he does the Champions League final one day?

  172. hogatroge says:

    32 teams in the league… depending on your market and including Thursday night games, and Sunday night football… you get to see 10-12 of them play each weekend. Less if one of your teams is featured on one of the nationally broadcast blocks.

    Also, the NFL is unlike soccer leagues around the world. Theoretically, any NFL team any given year can compete for the championship. We’ll be realistic and say 25 of 32 teams can actually compete any given year. In the EPL, there’s no way Blackburn or Stoke can ever expect to challenge for the title.

    So, if only being able to see ~33% of the teams play any given weekend and ~50% of the good ones, then yes… access is “amazing.”

    I’ll give you that the playoffs are easy access for everyone.

    I do have to say, though, that I’m hardly claiming nobody can see the NFL if they try. There is a reason, however, people flock to sports bars for the pay-per-view and the NFL Network exists.

  173. papa bear says:

    Versus does a good job with the NHL. If we get anywhere near that quality of coverage it is a great thing.

    I like it. This is a marked improvement over the last negotiations when the bidders were Fox and uh…Fox. I like that broadcasters are fighting for a piece of the MLS pie. Soccer America reported the numbers involved and it was a pretty hefty amount for a developing league like MLS. I hope in 2014 when all the TV deals run out, there is an even more intense bidding process and much MUCH higher rights fees.
    Looks like it’s going in the right direction.

  174. SBI Troll says:

    Please Child.

  175. Starks says:

    your an idiot. More people now have versus then fsc…and ever since versus landed the NHL it has gotten more popular. This is a fantastic move and deal for MLS and the fans. The game is finally growing to the point that we see some real progress and make no mistake about it, without TV deals no league in the world will grow.

  176. Starks says:

    im telling you people can not read…..that is 4 games on national tv and the rest on versus which is fantastic for a first deal. Come the next tv deal, they will see how the 4 games did in ratings along with the playoff games and see if they want to add more…..this is a great deal all around for mls and the fans….dont see how anyone can complain.

  177. jpc says:

    My understanding is that Versus is carried by more cable providers than FSC, which, if true is good news. Plus, NBC in my opinion does a better job w/ sports programming than anyone, including ABC/ESPN.

  178. Joamiq says:

    “Who doesn’t know about Versus?! They air the NHL.”

    Precisely. That’s part of why lots of people have never even heard of Versus.

  179. nate says:

    “the agreement marks the first time four MLS matches will be broadcast on English language channel television since 2002″

    what in the world was this sentence supposed to mean?? last time I watched an mls game on espn2, it was in english.

  180. BWH says:

    I would love to have Paul and Phil cross over from cycling to do some soccer as well. They probably know as much about the game as any American would.

  181. TommyOC says:

    AT&T UVerse just added FSC in HD this past week, after having carried FSC in SD since its inception.

    I’m sure there was a market/carriage conflict that resulted in the delay for rollout. Fox Soccer Channel is a great idea that’s executed so very poorly. Bad production, bad commentary, and an apparent disinterest in pushing its product in HD on every carrier (you can’t tell me the company that owns FOX News, FX, and a few other properties could bully FSC to be in HD as well…)

    Either way, VERSUS wanted MLS broadcasting for years… and now they got it. I would have loved to have more games on NBC nationally… but maybe it’ll happen soon enough.

  182. Justin says:

    The original press release has the correct sentence, which was English language network television. Channels we can all get for free over the air rather than requiring a cable/satellite provider.

  183. Abram says:

    Whether we want to admit it or not, Versus saved the NFL and boosted its ratings to the point that ESPN is positioning to get it back when the Versus contract runs out. They may not be everywhere, but they –along with NBC– will be good for MLS. Plus, from what I’ve read there are about 20-30 million more households that get Versus/NBC Sports than there are that get FSC.

  184. Abram says:

    Interestingly, the way the deal is structured it expires at the same time as the ESPN/MLS deal ends. This could be a good move to create a bidding war between ESPN and NBC over rights in 2014. Of course MLS would have to show that it can get good ratings with Versus/NBC Sports in the meantime.