NBC Sports Group and Major League Soccer have reached a three-year media rights agreement, it was announced Wednesday.
The new agreement, which begins at the start of the 2012 season, will have 45 MLS games and four U.S. Men's National Team matches to broadcast live across NBC and the newly renamed NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) each year. This is the first rights deal for the rebranded network, which will officially change its name Jan. 2, 2012.
NBC Sports Group also obtains digital rights across all platforms and devices.
"Everyone at the NBC Sports Group is thrilled to begin this partnership with Major League Soccer," said NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus. "MLS is a perfect fit for our new group, and we are uniquely positioned to help grow soccer in the United States with extensive coverage on NBC Sports Network, significant programming on the broadcast network and our growing digital platforms."
Of the 49 games, NBC will carry two regular-season MLS contests, two playoff games and two Men's National Team matches. NBC Sports Network will carry all other games. The partnership means this will be the most MLS games to broadcast on English-language network television since 2002.
"Our new partnership with the NBC Sports Group is a significant step forward for Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer," said MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO Don Garber. "The NBC Sports Group is world-renowned for its award-winning coverage, superb broadcast quality and promotional expertise. We are excited to be part of NBC's ambitious plans for soccer, and look forward to reaching a considerable audience on multiple platforms."
The new agreement goes along with the league's partnerships it has with five regional Comcast SportsNets (California, Chicago, Mid-Atlantic, New England and Philadelphia).