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MLS Signs with NBC: Putting the Heroic Day in Perspective

HARRISON, NJ - AUGUST 03:  MLS Commisioner Don Garber speaks to the media during a press conference to introduce Rafa Marquez to the New York Red Bulls on August 3, 2010 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Ned HarwoodContributor IIINovember 17, 2016

Wow, what a day for American soccer!

There is no question that the contract announcement between NBC and the MLS this morning was a great moment for the beautiful game in America. In case you missed it, I suggest you take a look at the win-win situation that occurred earlier in the day here.

As NBC hopes to emerge once again as a powerhouse sports station, the MLS gets even more coverage on a high-profile cable network. With today being called a heroic one in MLS history, I decided to look at the numbers and actually see how important this deal is. You won’t believe what I found.

To some people’s displeasure, the MLS’ move to NBC Sports also meant the death of their FSC telecasts and the newly born Soccer Night in America. However, upon looking at the impact between the national reach of the two stations, nobody really should be complaining about the move.

Last year FSC reached approximately 37 million US homes while Versus (NBC Sports Network) reached roughly 74 million. That is twice as much exposure for the MLS and is bound to increase MLS TV ratings dramatically.

More viewers? Check.

The MLS/NBC contract also means that there will be more nationally televised MLS games than ever before in 2012. NBC and Versus next year plan to air 40 total MLS regular season games and ESPN will likely continue their showing of 20 to 22 MLS matchups.

That is a total of 60 to 62 games that will be featured on significant cable stations (Not including the amount of games shown on Galavision and Telfutura)! To put things in perspective, only 65 regular season MLB games were shown between Fox, TBS and ESPN last year in each region. Not too shabby from a league merely 15 years old.

More games? Check. 

The contract between the NBC and the MLS has also been reported to be worth up to $10 million per year until 2014. That $10 million on top of the $8.5 million contract with ESPN will make next year the most effective economic season in MLS history. Just last year, FSC was paying a mere $3 million for the MLS’ television rights and ESPN was contemplating dropping the league.

More money? Check.

Lastly, the MLS’ television deals with ESPN, NBC and Galavision are all set to end in 2014, meaning a bidding bonanza will likely begin after the season. Commissioner Don Garber told the Daily this afternoon, “This is clearly another great moment for the sport of American soccer." And from the looks of it, there are many great moments still to come.

Heroic day? I'll let you decide.

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