The New MLS TV Deal

by A.J. Coltrane

From Forbes:

When we reported on the Major League Soccer’s financial success in November, we noted that one of the biggest factors for the league’s continued success was its upcoming TV deal negotiations. MLS is currently in the final year of TV deals with ESPN , NBC and Univision, which pay a combined $30 million annually on average. After an especially long negotiation period, the league has finally sealed new, eight-year agreements with ESPN, Fox and Univision that will run through the 2022 season.

At today’s announcement press conference, MLS commissioner Don Garber called the set of eight-year deals the “most comprehensive media rights arrangement” in the history of American soccer. Garber also discussed the league’s need for maximizing the league’s TV revenue, an area in which MLS appears to have been incredibly successful.

In our November report we predicted that, thanks to a burgeoning fan base and the networks’ need for live programming, MLS should have little trouble more than doubling its TV rights income. It turns out even that bullish guess underestimated the final outcome – the three deals are reportedly worth a combined $90 million per year, roughly triple what MLS was receiving previously. That’s still a fair bit behind America’s other pro leagues – the NHL, for instance, gets an average $200 million per year from NBC – but is a huge step toward closing the gap.

Triple the current TV revenue!

More TV revenue  ->  better players  -> more eyeballs  -> more TV revenue…

I’d prefer to see the bulk of the revenue going to the lower and mid-tier players. I think that would improve roster “depth” and raise the overall quality of play more than would dumping the additional money into a few stars.

I won’t be surprised if the next TV contract in 2022 is triple the size of this new deal. Maybe that’s when soccer passes hockey.

One thought on “The New MLS TV Deal

  1. Wait, you are expecting a bunch of owners who just got a revenue bump (and it really isn’t that much when you spread it out over 20 teams) to actually invest it in player salaries rather than putting the money into their own pockets?


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