Three-fold increase in league coverage
September 7, 2019 —
US-based broadcaster ESPN has retained domestic broadcast rights to the second and third tiers of the US club soccer system after extending its deal with the United Soccer League (“USL”).
The Disney-owned network has signed a three-year deal that covers TV and digital rights to the USL Championship, the second tier of the US Soccer system, as well as the third-tier USL League One until 2022.
Under the terms of the agreement, ESPN has committed to tripling the number of USL games shown across its family of channels, including the addition of Spanish-language telecasts on ESPN Deportes and expanded coverage on its direct-to-consumer streaming service ESPN+.
The relationship between the USL and ESPN will enter its fifth full year in 2020 as the league celebrates its 10th anniversary season. Under the new agreement, 18 regular-season games from the Championship will air on ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU or ESPN Deportes annually in addition to the USL Championship Final. All other matches will be streamed live on ESPN+.
“We’re delighted to continue our relationship with the United Soccer League, and showcase the USL Championship and USL League One competitions across ESPN networks and ESPN+ through this new agreement,” said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN Senior Vice President, Programming and Acquisitions.
Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed but, according to sources cited by The Athletic, ESPN will pay the USL a rights fee ‘in the low seven-figure range’.
“We are thrilled to continue with ESPN and ESPN+,” said USL executive vice president Court Jeske. “USL is an organisation that aims to put the fans first and we know that supporters across the country will be very pleased with this new three-year agreement and the exposure it brings.”
As well as the USL, ESPN holds rights to a number of top soccer properties, including Major League Soccer (MLS), Italy’s Serie A, England’s FA Cup, and the qualifiers for the UEFA 2020 European Championship.