The Walt Disney Co.'s ABC and ESPN will carry three upcoming World Cup soccer
competitions as part of a new TV deal with Major League Soccer.
The men's 2002 and 2006 World Cup events and the women's 2003 World Cup will
air on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2.
Sources said MLS paid between $40 million and $50 million to buy the U.S. TV
rights from German company The Kirch Group. (Univision Communications Inc. owns
the U.S. Spanish-language rights to the 2002 World Cup).
MLS is responsible for selling ad time and fronting production costs.
ESPN and ESPN2 will show 63 live matches from the 2002 tournament, while ABC
will air eight tape-delayed matches and show the final live.
Also part of the deal, ABC and ESPN2 will air the next five seasons of MLS
league play. The networks did not pay a traditional TV-rights fee.
ABC will air three MLS games per season, and 26 Saturday-afternoon games will
air nationally on ESPN2.