On Wednesday, MLS and the NBC Sports Group announced a three-year deal between the two sides, set to begin in 2012.
The deal will see a total of 45 MLS games and four U.S. Men's National Team games shown each season. Most of those games will be seen on Versus (which is set to be changed to NBC Sports in January 2012), however, NBC will be airing several games for both the USMNT and MLS.
Now, the question is, will this improve soccer broadcasting in the US?
Personally, I'm not a big fan of the current MLS and USMNT broadcasting on ESPN. They got rid of their best commentator, JP Dellacamera, and seem to be obsessed with the New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy.
When they aren't drooling over those two, it seems all of their games are on the West Coast, airing as late as 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. ET. This isn't the way to get a lot of viewers.
When the NHL left ESPN for Versus years ago, I thought the coverage became much better. It will be interesting to see what happens here.
I think ESPN will continue its coverage, but they have done a horrible job of promoting the MLS and USMNT games in general, unlike Fox Soccer who do it very well. They do a decent job of promoting the English Premier League, and the coverage is far and beyond superior.
I honestly think that NBC Sport's ratings will blow ESPN out of the water. More people get the NBC family of networks than Fox Soccer, so ratings have the potential to get much bigger.
Overall, I think this is a good deal for the league, and NBC should provide better coverage and exposure to both MLS and the men's national team. I think the games aired on NBC (not NBC Sports) could have monumental ratings.
So, what do you think of the new deal?