For months now, American soccer fans have been waiting for Major League Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation to finalize their next round of television rights deals. The current packages expire at the end of the 2014 MLS season, and time has been running out to set the stage for 2015 and beyond.
At long last, you can stop waiting. I've confirmed that those new deals will be officially announced on Monday, May 12. The English-language rights-holders will be ESPN and Fox Sports, and the primary Spanish-language rights-holder - as I reported Friday - will be Univision.
Credit to Awful Announcing for reporting earlier this week that the deals were on the verge of being made public.
From what I've been told, the last remaining hurdle to finishing the negotiations was an overhaul of digital streaming rights to Major League Soccer games that are not nationally televised. I don't know what the final resolution was, though I would not be surprised if MLS Live goes away next year, and streaming is run through the website of one of the national rights-holders. I don't know which rights-holder it will be.
I also don't know whether the final rights fee for the ESPN/Fox package was the $70 million figure that the Sports Business Journal reported in January. You can certainly expect, though, that MLS and U.S. Soccer will see a significant increase from the current deals with ESPN, NBC Sports and Univision, which pay a combined $27 million per year.
We'll find out a lot more Monday - which also happens to be the same day that the U.S. men's national team's 30-player World Cup training camp roster is announced.
It will be a busy start to the week that marks the unofficial start of the soccer summer. Buckle up.