Fox and ESPN to split MLS broadcast rights beginning in 2015; NBC out [UPDATED]

Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

To the dismay of many fans, NBC will no longer be broadcasting MLS games after the 2014 season; Soccer by Ives and Jonathan Tannewald are reporting that Fox and ESPN will split MLS's rights.

Both Ives Galarcep and Jonathan Tannewald are reporting that Fox and ESPN will split the rights for Major League Soccer on television starting in the 2015 season. Fox has the World Cup in both 2018 and 2022, and so having MLS is likely to be a big part of the promotion in the build-up to those two events. However, this also means that NBC is out of the MLS game, after having brought a new level of sophistication to the broadcast experience in their short time with the rights.

When MLS first went to NBC at the beginning of the 2012 season, for less money than Fox was offering to renew with them, it ushered in a new era of respectability for the league and its presentation on TV. Long-time watchers of the game in the United States will remember with a certain amount of fear the "quality" of MLS broadcasts on Fox Soccer Channel, which has since been rebranded as FXX. So a move back to Fox feels me with a certain amount of trepidation. However, with two World Cups in the near future, and with the legacy of NBC hanging over their shoulders, Fox now has a much bigger incentive to make their broadcasts better than they used to be.

This move could mean Eric Wynalda and Rob Stone as a broadcast booth, especially since Wynalda has created his new non-head coach position specifically so he can still do TV. What do you think of MLS's move from NBC back to Fox?

UPDATE: Sports Business Daily is now reporting that the combined fees that Fox and ESPN will pay will exceed $70 million per year over the next eight years, doubling the amount reaped by MLS each year under previous deals.

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