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MLS Ticker: MLS strikes TV deal with beIN SPORTS; NYCFC adds defensive help; and more




Major League Soccer announced another partnership with a foreign broadcast company Tuesday.

The league agreed with beIN SPORTS to televise league matches live across Southeast Asia and Australia. The deal will expand the MLS’ reach across seven countries throughout the region.

“This groundbreaking partnership with beIN SPORTS creates a new platform to increase MLS’ exposure across the region,” Gary Stevenson, president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures, said in a statement. “We are excited to have such a strong brand showcasing MLS games in Asia and Australia.”

The agreement will run from the 2015-18 seasons in Australia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines and Thailand. Two MLS regular season matches per week will be aired along with the AT&T MLS All-Star Game, all MLS Cup Playoff games and the MLS Cup final.

Sky Sports won rights in February for a four-year deal to broadcast MLS games in the United Kingdom, while Brazil’s Globosat, Letv Sports in China and more all have signed television deals. Each deal was negotiated with the MLS’ new global media rights agent, IMG, as part of a plan to bring Major League Soccer to more fans around the world and grow the relevance of the league.

Here are some more MLS news and notes this Tuesday:


New York City FC has bolstered their defense two days after giving up four goals at home, signing Colombian defender Jefferson Mena from Independiente Medellín.

Mena will join the team later this month and will be eligible for immediate selection pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate, P1 Visa and a physical, NYCFC announced Tuesday.

“Jefferson is a player I have been watching for a while and I couldn’t be happier to add him to our squad,” head coach Jason Kreis said. “His athletic ability and speed will provide us with a strong new option in the center back position.  He’s a good technical player just about to hit the prime of his career and will add international quality and experience to the team.”

In order to add Mena to the team, NYCFC traded allocation money to LA Galaxy to acquire an international roster slot in 2015 and 2016.


Kaká wants to see a change in the MLS All-Star game’s format.

The Brazilian midfielder says that he grew up watching American sports and was able to watch All-Star games for the NBA and NFL, and he had some thoughts of his own for where the MLS’s game should go.

“It will be a great experience to meet [other All-Stars], to play with them, to play against another European team,” Kaká said. “I don’t know if in the future we can play conference against conference, it should be great if MLS one day does this type of game, but now is Tottenham and we need to get ready to face them.”

The lone Orlando City SC selection to the team calls the opportunity a “dream come true” among a career that already includes a FIFA World Player of the Year award, the Ballon d’Or, a FIFA World Cup and a Champions League title.


After his second season with Toronto FC and 17 years as a professional, Steven Caldwell is retiring.

Caldwell, the second longest serving captain in TFC history behind Jimmy Brennan, made his decision official Tuesday morning. He will take on a new role as director of corporate development with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, who owns TFC.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement from the game I love,” Caldwell said in a statement released by Toronto FC. “Football has been my life since a very young age and I appreciate the opportunity I’ve had to live out my dreams. I would like to thank all my teammates and coaches I’ve learnt from along the way, creating friendships and bonds that will last forever.”

The 34-year-old joined TFC in May 2013 on loan from Birmingham City F.C. and signed a permanent contract less than a month later. Caldwell made 49 appearances for the club, wearing the armband in 40 of them, and scored one goal.

Caldwell played his final match March 14 in Columbus. He was substituted off at half-time due to injury.


The Red Bulls have cut down New York City FC’s traveling supporters’ tickets for their Aug. 9 match amid safety concerns.

The Red Bulls confirmed the reduction from 1,500 to 500 is a result of bad behavior and safety concerns over the blue-clad NYCFC contingent. In the first matchup at Red Bull Arena on May 10, NYCFC fans set off smoke bombs and threw a flare onto the field.

“At the last NYCFC game, several smoke devices were lit inside and around Red Bull Arena, including some that were thrown onto the field, causing issues with the match and safety concerns of the fans seated in close proximity,’’ a Red Bulls spokesman said. “Although the leaders of the various NYCFC Supporter Group tried to, they were unable to curb the actions of the large group inside the Arena.’’

NYCFC fans violated several Red Bull Arena policies in their first-ever Hudson River Derby, including tossing a flare that landed near Red Bulls’ keeper Luis Robles and forced a stoppage in play.


Think the MLS is doing a good job expanding its global audience? Will NYCFC’s addition of Mena help their struggling defense? Do you agree with Kaká’s thoughts about the MLS All-Star game?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’d like to see how this flurry of international TV deals helps jersey sponsorships.

    Suddenly there’s a lot more value for international brands to get on MLS shirts (instead of local market health care companies and the like.)

  2. The more money that comes in the better it will be for players to get more salary in next CBA – I think it is great, plus the international exposure and popular interest will add to world players coming in. It helps to have Kaka, Villa, Pirlo, Gerrard, Lampard, Giov, Dos Santos, Keane etc…

  3. have to heartily disagree with Kaka, MLS all-star game absolutely sucked when it was East v West or Foreign v. Domestic, the MLS has THE best all star game in US sports with their All Stars vs. top Foreign team format…there have been some good games…vs. Everton, vs. Chelsea, vs. Chivas Guadalajara, vs. Bayern Munich, vs. Celtic, I think it will be good vs. Tottenham as well….

  4. To those blaming Bob Kraft for TV rights. Get lost. The New England Revolution are the only original team that has had every single regular season, playoff and championship game televised on local cable & radio. We are on CSN New England and 98.5FM and 1570AM(Portuguese) here in Boston. CSN Is carried in all New England and Eastern and upper New York. It is also carried in parts of Canada. We get other games on ESPN or ESPN 2 nd FS1 These stations are national. If you aren’t ‘ getting your local eam on TV complain to them and see what kind of deal they can work out with local cable. All rights to all sports are expensive especially your local station as to do the production. that is one here in Boston by Kraft sports media. They also produce Patriots shows during the season. They also produce all Patriots home pre-season games on the local CBS channel.

  5. MLS players wanted free agency. They didnt get it. These foreign deals may create more demand for good MLS players then anything they imagined.

  6. Was that new TV deal for Australia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines and Thailand or was it for Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, Vermont, North Dakota, Wyoming and Alaska where nobody else watches MLS?

    “If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody is around to hear it, and it hits a mime, does anyone care?”

  7. One day some people are going to wake up and think, wow we haw a great soccer league, when did that happen?

  8. These foreign TV contracts are a big part of why there is no way in hell Lampard and Gerrard were going to be left off the All-Star Game roster.

  9. I realize these TV deals might not involve astronomical amounts of money but I’m curious why companies are interested in distributing MLS globally at all? It doesn’t seem like we are anywhere close to the big boys in terms of quality or prestige to warrant interest outside our region. Is it just a speculative deal to see if people will tune in or is there actual demand? If so what is drawing an audience?

    • Cable networks have to fill their channels with something in order to keep advertisers interested since that’s how they make their money, showing too man rebroadcasts usually means less money or in worst case scenarios losing advertisers entirely. So filling the timeslot with anything is better than nothing.

    • One of the hardest areas to succeed in if you are a sports channel, is securing rights to sports events. It can be expensive and frustrating. Football is one of the most popular sports in the world. Buying the primary and secondary right to some of the big Euro Leagues is very expensive. The MLS offers an attractive package with excellent production values, some big and well known sports figures, nice stadiums, and most likely at an attractive price. The US and its sports leagues are second to none in marketing their products, and marketing the MLS brand is not that big of a challenge

    • What else are you going to show live at 3AM?

      Also, there are leagues well below MLS in terms of quality that get shown in many many countries. It’s not unusual at all for MLS to be shown in a lot of places.

    • Simple: MLS plays during the time of the year when all the major European leagues don’t.

      So it’s not that there’s some massive international interest in watching MLS, it’s more that sports channels like to have games on year round and there’s very little other soccer league competition during the summer.

      • You are right. I read a article stating what you just said. There is no football being play during the summer break. MLS is the only league playing. Cable most have live sport and for this reason they are paying MLS to show our league. show me the money.

      • Except that there is an avalanche of tournaments from Women’s World Cup to U-19 Euro Championship. Also, a lot of teams broadcast their pre-season friendlies nowadays.

        Interest probably stems from people wanting to see the stars of MLS (i.e., Gerrard and Lampard) as well as players from their country.

    • Signing internationally known stars like Kaka, Lampard, Gerrard, Giovinco, Villa probably has a lot to do with it. I doubt this deal would have been possible 5 years ago; maybe not even 2 years ago.

  10. Nice, very good news.
    The more exposure MLS gets worldwide, more worldwide talent will come to MLS.
    Another question, I know Mexico hates MLS, even their tv stations. Will MLS ever be shown in Mexico besides espn deportes or Univison deportes. (Univison deportes is owned by a giant mexican station named televisa who owns club America)
    How about Alaska,Hawaii, Japan, Korea,Africa, Argentina.

    • If I recall, Alaska and Hawaii are part of the US.

      I imagine that the other parts of the world will eventually fall to giving coverage to the evil juggernaut that is MLS overseas coverage.

      What is disturbing to me is that the MLS owners did not disclose they were close to signing these foreign television agreements during the CBA negotiations , preferring to tie the salary cap to US domestic Television rights.
      If these agreements are substantial (No dollar figures are disclosed) then the MLS should tie some of these monies to Salary Cap expansion. But I think the MLS would rather use the allocation process to target growth rather than salary cap expansion. Either way, the money should help the MLS grow.

      • I doubt the fees are substantial at all. I live in the Middle East and the usual starting times for games on Abu Dhabi Sports is around 3AM. I’ve only been here a month, but I haven’t seen a game yet. And I think it’s safe to say the number of people watching sports on satellite TV at 3AM is very very tiny.

  11. For a minute there I thought it was Bein USA instead of having to use MLS Live. Oh well, more rivers for the Red Direct.

    • was hoping to hear that too but this should be a good money move, that’s a huge portion of the world that can watch MLS now (or more importantly MLS’ adds go to!) – time to seriously upgrade the cap and allow some competition!

      domestically sticking with espn, fs1, unimas, univision and local channels is probably the best move.

      • Not if local broadcasts come with blackout restrictions eliminating viewing options (such as MLS Live and MLS Direct Kick). Can’t wait for the ridiculous Time Warner deal with CCSC to go away.

  12. So MLS keeps signing new TV deals but still allows the old boys cheapo network of Hunt & Kraft to nickel and dime the players with a crappy salary cap. Hard to keep justifying poverty when all I keep hearing is new sponsorship deals and TV contracts.

  13. Looks like NYYFC fanboys are a bunch of fake tough guys trying to recreate what they believe to be soccer “culture” here. These “hooligans” were headed to the exits early during the last derby at RBA and the one at the baseball stadium.


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