At this point, nobody knows when David Beckham will bend a free kick in Major League Soccer for the first time, but fútbol fans will have plenty of opportunities to see the English midfielder perform on national television this summer.
The first appearance by Beckham, who signed a five-year, $250 million deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy last month, will come after his contract with La Liga's Real Madrid expires on June 30. When the man who is arguably the world's highest-profile soccer player dons a Galaxy uniform for the first time, though, is matter of his conditioning and acclimation to the States and his new club, according to an MLS spokesman. Becks's stateside coming-out party may take place in Dallas as part of the SuperLiga, an eight-team tournament following the league's July 19 All-Star Game, late that month.
Univision holds the U.S. TV rights to the SuperLiga tourney, comprising four teams from MLS and four from Mexico's Primera Division, which concludes with semifinals and finals in late August.
Many are pointing to Aug. 5 for Beckham's MLS regular-season game debut, when the Galaxy travels north of the border to visit the expansion Toronto F.C. Currently, that game does not have a national carrier.
One executive in the TV-soccer community, though, said that there is keen interest in that match, if it is in fact Beckham's first regular-season appearance.
“None of the carriers are going to come out and say anything because it will drive up the price,” he said.
Asked if there were a pecking order or a protocol that could tip that match to one of the league's national carriers, an MLS representative said: “It has not yet been determined at this time as how that could work.”
Following that contest, 16 of the Galaxy's 17 remaining regular-season games will be televised nationally either on Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Sports en Español, ESPN2, Galavision, TeleFutura or HDNet.
All told, 113 of the league's 195 regular-season matches — including the opener April 7, with D.C. United visiting the Colorado Rapids on ABC — will air live on national television.
MLS officials noted that remainder of the matches will also air on regional broadcasts, meaning that for the first time, each of the league's matches will be televised.
ESPN2 will air its 29 MLS regular-season contests principally on Thursday nights, while Fox Soccer, Fox Sports en Español (28 games simulcast on the sister services) and HDNet will present matches Saturdays (27 of 31). TeleFutura (22) and Galavisión (three) plan to air MLS games Sundays.
In addition, soccer fans can watch MLS action on out-of-market pay-per-view package “MLS Direct Kick,” or on broadband subscription through MLSLive.TV.
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