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USL, ESPN agree to new partnership through 2022

Under the new agreement, USL content on ESPN platforms will nearly triple.

ATL UTD 2 and NCFC face off at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. on July 27, 2019. (Mitchell Northam / Pro Soccer USA)

Fans of the USL Championship and USL League One will be able to continue watching matches on ESPN platforms through the 2022 season.

The sports broadcasting giant and the league announced a new three-year partnership Tuesday that will see more games on ESPN’s linear networks, as well as continued coverage through its streaming service, ESPN+.

Under the new agreement, USL content on ESPN platforms will nearly triple, as 18 regular season games from the Championship will be aired annually on ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU or ESPN Deportes. ESPN will also carry the league’s final on one of its linear networks each season.

This season, just eight USL games aired on linear ESPN properties with seven on ESPNEWS and one on ESPN2.

In all, more than 70,000 minutes of USL soccer will reach more than 2 million subscribers.

“We are thrilled to continue with ESPN and ESPN+,” USL Executive Vice President Court Jeske said in a statement. “USL is an organization that aims to put the fans first and we know that supporters across the country will be very pleased with this new three-year agreement and the exposure it brings.” 

ESPN and the USL will enter into their fifth season as partners in 2020, the same year the second-tier league celebrates its 10th anniversary.

“We’re delighted to continue our relationship with the United Soccer League,” Scott Guglielmino, an ESPN Senior Vice President, said in a statement. “And to showcase the USL Championship and USL League One competitions across ESPN networks and ESPN+ through this new agreement.”

According to a report from The Athletic, ESPN will pay the USL a fee in the “low seven-figure range” for the rights to its games as part of this new deal, and the revenue stream will be shared across the league’s clubs.

Games will continue to be produced by USL Productions, the league’s broadcast production, broadcast and distribution facilities with VISTA Worldlink in Florida.

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