NEW YORK (February 25, 2015) – Major League Soccer (MLS) announced today that it has partnered with British sports broadcaster Sky Sports to televise league matches live in the United Kingdom, marking the first time Sky Sports will own MLS broadcast rights. The four-year multimedia deal begins this March with the kickoff of MLS’ landmark 20th season.
As part of this new agreement, Sky Sports will broadcast at least two MLS regular season matches per week, as well as the AT&T MLS All-Star Game, all MLS Cup Playoff games and MLS Cup on the Sky family of networks. The UK-based broadcaster will also carry weekly MLS highlights across its various platforms, including Sky Sports News and SkySports.com.
“As MLS continues to grow into a global brand, we are excited to partner with Sky Sports, a leader in the UK TV market, to bring the sport to millions of soccer fans,” said Gary Stevenson, President and Managing Director, MLS Business Ventures. “2015 is a milestone year for MLS including new stars, new clubs and a new brand. Sky Sports will help continue to grow the League and clubs worldwide.”
“Football in the U.S. and Canada has enormous potential for growth and we can’t wait to bring this competition to our viewers for the first time,” said Sky Sports Managing Director Barney Francis. “Thierry Henry has joined us, he created fantastic memories in MLS, and we look forward to seeing more of those great stories from across the Atlantic.”
“We are always looking to offer more choice and recently added football from Holland, Italy and UEFA European qualifiers; we are delighted to now add MLS to that list.”
Sky Ambassadors Thierry Henry and David Beckham both played multiple seasons in MLS, helping raise the profile of the League and paving the way for other international stars to cross the pond, the likes of Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Kaká (Orlando City SC), David Villa (NYC FC) and Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC).
"This is another important moment that shows the continued growth of MLS. I have seen first-hand how popular soccer has become in America,” said Beckham. “Having fantastic partners such as Sky Sports on board will not only add to the coverage of the game, it will also broaden its appeal outside of the U.S."
“I will never forget my time playing in MLS, it gave me some great memories and I was proud to play a role in growing the game,” said Henry.
“I saw the passion of the fans in the U.S. and Canada, they have always had it for other sports but they also have it for football now and it’s going to be huge in years to come. Sky Sports is the best place for the game, to bring it closer to fans in the UK and build MLS even more.”
In addition, with former England captain Steven Gerrard announcing he will join the LA Galaxy in July, and Frank Lampard set to unite with New York City FC this summer, Sky Sports will be the exclusive place for fans in the UK to follow the fortunes of two Premier League legends in MLS.
The deal was negotiated with MLS’ new global media rights agent, IMG, as part of a continued focus to bring MLS to more fans around the world and grow the relevance of the League.