Sunday, July 30, 2006

What's up with Fox Soccer Channel and MLS?

Back in April when the MLS season began, they announced their TV details for the year. The big news was games would no longer be carried on Fox Soccer Channel (FSC) and if you wanted to view them online, you had to pay.

At the time, there was talk that cutting FSC has something to do with a new TV deal for 2007. The theory went something like, ABC and ESPN offered to pay for MLS broadcast rights, provided FSC was not associated with MLS. Was it true or not, I don't know. For the record, MLS said there was no fact to the story. There was also talk the MLS wanted FSC to pay for the games this year and that FSC said no.

Anyway, without FSC, it meant there was usually only one MLS game on TV a weekend. However, something strange happened last night. For some reason, the Kansas City Wizards vs. New England Revolution match was aired live on FSC. To add to the strangeness, MLS did not list the game as being aired on FSC till very late in the week (I think Friday).

But it gets a little more interesting. After the match, FSC ran a promo for their next MLS match on August 9th between Houston and LA, yet when you go look at the MLS calendar, the game is not listed as airing on TV at all. In addition, FSC does not list MLS as part of their programming.

The FSC programming list is 16 days old, so it looks like this deal has only been finalized in the last week or so.

All-Star weekend is coming up for the MLS and it is normal for the Commissioner Don Garber to give his 'state of the league' address. In the past, this address has been used to announce major events for the league (such as expansion teams). The rumor is that this year's big deal will be about television rights. Could it be that FSC has started paying rights to the league? If it has, that would be a nice addition to any deal with the ABC family.

Anyway you look at it, it's great to have more American soccer available on TV.

Update: I just stumbled across this report out of KC: Saturday’s game marked the first television broadcast under a new deal between MLS and Fox Soccer Channel. It was the first of 16 MLS games FSC will broadcast over the remainder of the season.

Update 2: I just had a thought. Perhaps this FSC agreement has been worked out for a while and was always suppose to be announced at the All-Star game, which was originally scheduled for this weekend. However, when the game got pushed back a week so they could play Chelsea, MLS had to move games from next weekend to this weekend. So this weekend games were really the first post-All-Star set of games. That could explain why FSC started airing them and why it has been so hush-hush. Just a thought.



Blogger Pitch to Pub said...

Update 2 seems logical to me. Nice detective work here.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Jarrett said...

My understanding is that FSI was negotiating a rights deal (I think for the Barcelona tour of the USA) with SUM and the MLS for the balance of 2006 was a rider on the package deal.

6:18 PM  

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