Deals with ESPN, Fox, and Univision will dish out $90 million per year for the rights to put Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer matches on live TV, as networks are taking the sport more seriously than ever.
The eight-year deals will see ESPN and Fox pay a combined average of $75 million, while Univision will pay $15 million for a Spanish-language version of telecasts, Sports Business Journal reports. That price tag is a massive increase on soccer's previous TV deal that only paid out about $18 million a year from ESPN, NBC, and Univision.
But those contracts expire after this year, opening the door for the five-fold price increase. "It's a statement about where the soccer market is and where Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer fit into the paradigm," MLS Commissioner Don Garber told the Journal.
Still, the price is pocket change for the behemoth that is ESPN, which pays close to $2 billion a season to broadcast one NFL game a week. In addition, it gives the young Fox Sports 1 network a foothold in the sport. And it leaves NBC out in the cold, which despite being heavily invested in English Premier League soccer, was unwilling to shell out the necessary cash, the Journal notes.