May 12 (Reuters) - Major League Soccer announced a landmark television rights deal on Monday, signing an eight-year agreement with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision Deportes that will feature a Match of the Week on all three networks.
Securing a television rights deal that would give American soccer fans a destination day and time for MLS games has long been a top priority for league commissioner Don Garber.
Fans will be able to enjoy a doubleheader of MLS action every Sunday, as ESPN and FOX Sports 1 will televise back-to-back MLS matches.
The Univision family of networks will televise a game of the week on Friday evenings and a wrap-up show on Sundays.
More than 125 MLS matches will be televised annually on the three networks in a deal which marks a massive bump in exposure for the MLS which has enjoyed good crowds at matches but had been unable to make a dent in the U.S. television market.
“We are honored to partner with ESPN, FOX and Univision to form the most comprehensive U.S. media rights partnership in the history of soccer in our country,” Garber said in a statement.
“The commitment from our television partners in terms of structure, length and magnitude is unprecedented and these new partnerships are another strong indicator of the league’s continued growth and the overall fan interest in our sport.”
The television deal is another sign of the robust growth of professional soccer in the United States.
The MLS recently announced expansion franchises to Orlando and Atlanta with former-England captain David Beckham exploring stadium possibilities for a franchise in Miami. (Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; editing by Julian Linden)