Opening kickoff of the 2015 MLS season is more than three months away, but the expansion sides – New York City FC and Orlando City SC – have been busy. This week they both announced television deals with local networks. 2015 is the start of MLS’s new television deal with ESPN, Fox Sports, and Univision that will see one game televised on each network on a weekly basis.
Orlando City SC
On Wednesday, Orlando City announced that they’ve reach an agreement with their local Fox affiliate, FOX 35 / WRBW MY65. The network will serve as the Lions’ English-broadcast partner for any games not featured on a national broadcast.
"“This is a landmark day for Orlando City fans,” said President and Founder Phil Rawlins. “We look forward to working closely with our partners at FOX 35 to create, not only a first class broadcast for our fans, but additional in-market promotions and opportunities to bring them closer to their Club and the players on the field."
Added Allyson Meyers, WOFL/WRBW Vice President and General Manager,
"“We look forward to working in partnership with the Orlando City Soccer Club. Together, we will create the ultimate fan experience across multiple platforms in Orlando.”"
The Top Flight
The Lions are also pursuing agreements for a radio and Spanish-broadcast partners. The deal with Fox 35 is a win-win for both side. Orlando is regularly in the top 10 markets for soccer games and that won’t change for Orlando City games. Lions fans will be able to easily find their team on an over-the-air channel when the team is on the road or they can’t make it to the stadium. If it isn’t broadcasted on FOX 35 / WRBW MY65, then the game is being shown nationally.
New York City FC
On the other hand, NYCFC has reached a multi-year agreement with the YES Network. New York City FC games on the YES Network should not come as a surprise given the Yankees own part of NYCFC along with Manchester City. The YES Network is a popular channel in the NYC area, so NYCFC’s exposure will not lack when they kickoff in 2015.
"“It is only fitting that YES has become New York City FC’s television partner, given the New York Yankees’ investment in the club and New York City FC’s playing in the number one market in the country, at Yankee Stadium in particular,” YES Network president and CEO Tracy Dolgin said. “The Yankees-Man City ownership structure, along with the presence of Jason Kreis and Claudio Reyna, give New York City FC instant credibility, and we expect it to become one of MLS’ flagship franchises in no time.”"
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NYCFC has some well-known, high-caliber stars on their roster in Frank Lampard and David Villa. While it is up in the air when Lampard will join NYCFC’s roster, Lampard and Villa will help to not only draw the fans to the stadium, but also get others to tune into NYCFC games on the YES Network. Just like with Orlando City, these matches will be on the local partner when NYCFC is not on national televised games.
All in all, these local TV deals are good for both sides and their fans. Not every MLS team has a TV deal in place with a local broadcast partner. These partnerships show how committed both sides and local affiliates are committed to bringing soccer into the community through television broadcasts. It’s great when fans show up to the stadiums to root on their teams, but it’s important that teams provide a way for those same fans and others to watch the games when they can’t make it to the stadium. Both of these deals will continue to help MLS and soccer alike grow in the United States.