By DAN KARELL
Major League Soccer is deep in discussions for a new national television deal, but they may be losing one of their partners.
According to a report in Goal.com, NBC Sports Group has pulled out of the bidding for the next MLS national TV contract, ending their relationship with the league following the 2014 MLS season. According to a separate report, Fox Sports is set to replace NBC Sports as a national TV partner, joining ESPN in a deal that could pay MLS upwards of $70 million per season.
MLS has not officially commented on the reports or on their negotiations.
NBC Sports Group took over for Fox Sports in 2012 and showed a number of MLS matches on NBC Sports Network and even a few on NBC over the last two years. The network acquired the English Premier League rights starting in 2013, and tried to cross promote the programming but failed to earn an increase in viewership.
Both reports state that home U.S. Men’s National Team matches are part of the deal, though it’s unclear how they will be split up. In addition, both reports say that the proposed deal allows for both Fox Sports and ESPN to stream games live online.
An announcement of the deal could come as early as Jan. 16 at the NSCAA Convention and MLS SuperDraft, but the report in Sports Business Daily states that the deal is still a long way from being completed.
To put it in perspective, MLS currently earns a reported $18 million annually from their television deals with ESPN and NBC Sports. MLS saw a decrease in viewers over the course of the last season, with SBD reporting that viewership dropped 29 percent on ESPN’s network and a 12 percent decrease from a year ago on NBC Sports Network.
What do you think of this report? Stunned that MLS could earn up to $70 million per season? Will you miss NBC Sports Group?
Share your thoughts below.