Fox Soccer Channel has netted a one-year extension with Major League Soccer covering the domestic circuit's 2011 campaign.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Some sources value the pact at $6.5 million, while other place the outlay in the $8 million range for the season. SB Nation indicates that FSC was paying around $3 million under its expired contract.
The agreement encompasses 31 regular-season games and three MLS Cup playoff contests, including a conference final encounter. Perhaps more importantly, the deal gives Fox Soccer Channel and MLS a de facto national Friday match, as 14 of the network's games are schedule for that night. Another 15 are slated for Saturday. All told, 20 of the games will air in exclusive FCS windows.
The FCS pact begins March 19 at 9 p.m. with the defending MLS champion Colorado Rapids looking to chop down the expansionist Portland Timbers in their first match as part of the league's First Kick presented by Dick's Sporting Goods.
"We're extremely pleased to be home to MLS - the gold standard for soccer in the US - for our ninth straight season," said Fox Soccer executive vice president and general manager David Nathanson in announcing the deal. "Fox Soccer is committed to providing soccer fans in America the best coverage possible, and this extension helps us keep that commitment."
Earlier this week, MLS inked its first national contract in Canada with TSN, a six-year pact. In 2011, TSN and TSN2 will combine to broadcast 24 regular season games live -- all involving at least one of the two Canadian-based clubs in MLS - Toronto FC and the rookie Vancouver Whitecaps FC. This season, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC will be showcased 13 and 12 times, respectively, on TSN/TSN2, including the first two all-Canadian matches in MLS history on March 19 and June 29. Beginning next year, TSN and TSN2 will combine to broadcast 30 regular-season MLS games featuring at least one Canadian club.
As the official broadcaster of MLS in Canada, TSN also holds broadcast rights for the MLS AT&T All-Star Game, the MLS Cup playoffs, and the circuit's championship game, MLS Cup. TSN also will broadcast select additional games between two U.S.-based teams to its lineup of MLS coverage beginning this season through 2016. French-language broadcasting rights in Canada belong to TSN's sister network RDS as part of the deal ahead of the Montreal Impact joining MLS as an expansion club.
Back in the States, MLS is in the middle of an eight-year, multimedia rights contract with ESPN that carries through the 2014 season and reportedly pays it some $8 million annually, with ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes on the pitch for 21 matches.
MLS also has a multiyear deal with Univision Communications, whose TeleFutura broadcast network and cable service Galavision will team on 30 Saturday and Sunday afternoon and primetime games in Spanish.
Versus, which had preliminary discussions with MLS last year, will not be part of the action -- at least for this season.
Check out FSC's 2011 MLS schedule below:
2011 MLS Schedule
Home team listed first; all times Eastern; subject to change
Saturday, March 19 Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers 9 p.m.
Friday, March 25* Seattle Sounders FC vs. Houston Dynamo 10 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, April 1* Columbus Crew vs. FC Dallas 7:30 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, April 8* FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids 9 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, April 16 Toronto FC vs. D.C. United 7 p.m.
Friday, April 22* Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders FC 9:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, April 23 LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers 11 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, April 29* Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United 8:30 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, May 6* Portland Timbers vs. Philadelphia Union 10:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, May 14 Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo 9 p.m.
Friday, June 3* LA Galaxy vs. D.C. United 11 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, June 10* New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution 8:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, June 11 Seattle Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 10 p.m.
Friday, June 17* Sporting Kansas City vs. San Jose Earthquakes 8:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, June 25 San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy 11 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, July 2 D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union 7 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, July 9 LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 16 Seattle Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids 4 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, July 29* Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids 7:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, July 30 Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. LA Galaxy 7:30 p.m.
Friday, August 5* Colorado Rapids vs. Columbus Crew 9:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, August 13 Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 20 Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 10 p.m.
Saturday, August 27 Chivas USA vs. Real Salt Lake 10:30 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, September 9* LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids 11 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, September 16* Portland Timbers vs. New England Revolution 11 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, September 23* Sporting Kansas City vs. Philadelphia Union 8:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, October 1* Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 15 Seattle Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes 10:30 p.m. (excl.)
* indicates date or time change from schedule as originally announced
(excl.) - exclusively broadcast on FSC.
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