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Clock ticking for MLS rights deal as local broadcasters concerned

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Clock ticking for MLS rights deal

MLS Commissioner Don Garber set March as the date when he hoped to announce the new rights deal. Now, one month later, league executives appear to be no closer to making an announcement. With the new media rights deal scheduled to start in early 2023, the clock is ticking. And there are still several major issues to resolve.

According to World Soccer Talk sources, the delays are beginning to concern clubs. In particular, the local broadcasters attached to each team.

“Many years ago, we went to our clubs and said, all of your local deals need to expire by the end of the [2022] season,” Garber told reporters in December 2021. “All of your streaming deals need to expire. All of your data deals, all of your sports betting deals, everything that has a touch point with a consumer is all now in a package that we’re able to engage with traditional media companies that are transforming themselves digitally, to new media companies.”

At the time, MLS executives were bullish over landing a major deal. Subsequently, reports were that MLS aimed for a $300 million per year deal.

Since then, though, the MLS media rights deal has been falling short of expectations.

Concerns about the next MLS rights deal

A combination of factors have led to concern. First, World Soccer Talk has heard from several on-air personalities who worry about losing their jobs. They’ve received little to no communications from the league or regional sports networks about their future.

Second, there is a huge amount of uncertainty about how these local rights to MLS games will play out. Who will produce games? Will a streaming company such as Apple TV+ or HBO Max buy all the rights available, thus making local rights obsolete?

Third, the league is exploring having its own announcers call select games, according to our sources. That would be from a production studio that is centralized nationally. This would reduce costs and enable the league to ensure that all talent are “on message.”

Fourth, the fact that an announcement about the new MLS media rights hasn’t materialized is causing anguish. After all, it’s been nine months since the league met with FOX, Univision and ESPN to discuss renewing their deals.

MLS fans connect with local broadcasters

What is important to point out is that while regional sports networks are becoming antiquated, there is a close bond between the club’s fans and its local broadcaster. In most cases, the fans of local MLS clubs enjoy the broadcasts. The talent calling the games often have a connection to the local team. They know the team and the personalities. Ask any MLS fan about local TV coverage. For the most part, they’ll know the talent and will appreciate the broadcasts.

Centralizing the calling of games off a monitor from a sterile booth is not the same.

Meanwhile, the wait continues for MLS to complete its deal. As we end the month of April, the clock is ticking. Our sources continue to tell us that Turner Sports, ESPN, Univision and Apple TV+ are interested. However, there’s a ton of work to prepare for the 2023 season. That means hiring new talent, untangling the major issue of who will produce the games and educating the fans on all of the complicated viewing options. The race is on.

Photo credit: Getty Images via Icon Sportswire / Contributor



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Team of the Week presented by Audi: Austin FC dominate lineup in Week 12

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Team of the Week (3-4-3, left to right): Brad Stuver (ATX) – Alexander Callens (NYC), Damion Lowe (MIA), Ruben Gabrielsen (ATX) – Xherdan Shaqiri (CHI), Jamiro Monteiro (SJ), Hany Mukhtar (NSH), Sebastian Driussi (ATX) – Lucas Cavallini (VAN), Raul Ruidiaz (SEA), Daniel Salloi (SKC)

Bench: Drake Callender (MIA), Yeimar Gomez Andrade (SEA), Alex Muyl (NSH), Alfredo Morales (NYC), Jackson Yueill (SJ), Emanuel Reynoso (MIN), Omir Fernandez (RBNY)





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Canada: 5 priorities the potential Nations League roster must address

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“He likes to play between the two center backs, he likes to lead the line, he can run behind the line and stretch the line, which I like,” Herdman said back in November. “I think that is a facet that can help complement other players and the way that we play. Often when we play with that No. 9 in Johnny [David] or Cyle [Larin], they want to be receiving in those pockets of space off the front. At times, we get left with a line that is not stretched. That space doesn’t really open up. I think Ike gives us that opportunity.”

Ugbo only played 53 minutes during the Octagonal across four substitute appearances. It’s clear, though, that he can be an impactful player, even off the bench, so giving him a start to build chemistry with either David or Larin would behoove everyone. If they find that connection on the pitch now, it’ll be a seamless change when Ugbo checks into a game at the World Cup.

More than anything, Ugbo deserves a shot given his strong finish to the season in his first proper run in a top-five European league. Herdman has constantly spoken about wanting his players in “Tier 1” leagues, now it’s time to reward those who transition to that environment without a hitch.





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Walker Zimmerman on Nashville SC and the US Men’s National Team | FOX Soccer – FOX Soccer

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Walker Zimmerman on Nashville SC and the US Men’s National Team | FOX Soccer  FOX Soccer



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