After getting into a protracted dispute over rights fees, Fox Soccer Channel and Major League Soccer have come to a one year contract extension that keeps MLS on Fox for 2011. At one point, Fox Soccer Channel had balked at paying MLS’ request for $20 million a year. It looks like cooler heads have prevailed and my prediction that MLS would be forced to pay for time on Versus has gone down the drain.
Anyway, Fox Soccer Channel will air up to 31 regular season MLS games. Under the deal, Fox Soccer Channel gets three postseason games including one conference final. MLS and Fox Soccer Channel have been partners since 2003. Here’s the press release.
One-year extension includes up to 31 matches
NEW YORK (Friday, February 18, 2011) – Today Major League Soccer and FOX Soccer announced that they have extended the network’s national broadcast rights agreement for one year. The premier soccer-only channel in North America will broadcast up to 31 regular-season games, plus three exclusive MLS Cup Playoff matches including a Conference Final – all in high definition. The package includes 15 matches on Saturday nights and 14 on Friday nights; 20 of those 31 broadcast windows are exclusive to FOX Soccer.
“FOX Soccer has been a tremendous partner for MLS for many years and we are very happy that we have been able to extend the relationship,” said MLS President Mark Abbott. “Through both its news coverage and its extensive schedule of MLS games, Fox Soccer allows MLS fans across the country to follow their club as well as their rivals.”
FOX Soccer schedule this season begins with the MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids hosting the Portland Timbers in the expansion club’s inaugural MLS match as part of First Kick. Other highlights of the FOX Soccer lineup include five games between regional rivals, a clash of the two winningest teams in MLS history (LA Galaxy vs. D.C. United, June 3), and late season conference matchups that are bound to have playoff implications and high tension.
“We’re extremely pleased to be home to MLS – the gold standard for soccer in the US – for our ninth straight season,” said FOX Soccer Executive Vice President and General Manager David Nathanson. “FOX Soccer is committed to providing soccer fans in America the best coverage possible, and this extension helps us keep that commitment.”
FOX Soccer has been a national broadcast partner of MLS since 2003.
After the jump, I’ll provide this year’s MLS on Fox Soccer Channel schedule.
As promised, here’s the schedule.
2011 MLS Broadcast Schedule (FOX Soccer)
Home team listed first; all times Eastern; subject to change
Saturday, March 19 - Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers, 9 p.m.
Friday, March 25* - Seattle Sounders FC vs. Houston Dynamo, 10 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, April 1* - Columbus Crew vs. FC Dallas, 7:30 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, April 8* - FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids, 9 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, April 16 - Toronto FC vs. D.C. United, 7 p.m.
Friday, April 22* - Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 9:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, April 23 - LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers, 11 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, April 29* - Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United, 8:30 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, May 6* - Portland Timbers vs. Philadelphia Union, 10:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, May 14 - Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo, 9 p.m.
Friday, June 3* - LA Galaxy vs. D.C. United, 11 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, June 10* - New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution, 8:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, June 11 - Seattle Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10 p.m.
Friday, June 17* - Sporting Kansas City vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 8:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, June 25 - San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy, 11 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, July 2 - D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union, 7 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, July 9 - LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire, 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 16 - Seattle Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids, 4 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, July 29* - Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids, 7:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, July 30 - Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. LA Galaxy, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, August 5* - Colorado Rapids vs. Columbus Crew, 9:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, August 13 - Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 20 - Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10 p.m.
Saturday, August 27 - Chivas USA vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, September 9* - LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids, 11 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, September 16* - Portland Timbers vs. New England Revolution, 11 p.m. (excl.)
Friday, September 23* - Sporting Kansas City vs. Philadelphia Union, 8:30 p.m. (excl.)
Saturday, October 1* - Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 15 - Seattle Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. (excl.)
That will do it.