Locally broadcast Seattle Sounders games will be a bit easier to find this year. On Tuesday, the team announced that JOEtv will become the exclusive home for locally broadcast English-language games. Since 2014, locally broadcast games had basically been split between sister stations Q13 and JOEtv, but ratings were apparently nearly identical. In total, there are 21 matches currently scheduled to air on JOEtv with the other 13 being broadcast on national networks.
“In JOEtv, we’re excited about having a singular, dedicated over-the-air television platform for our fans to enjoy Sounders FC soccer,” Sounders Chief Operating Officer Bart Wiley said in a team release. “We’re thrilled to renew this agreement and continue working with a partner that is fully committed to growing our game throughout the region.”
Aside from that, the new agreement appears to be very similar to previous years. Gameday coverage will begin with a 30-minute pregame show and end with a 30-minute postgame show. There will be two “feature-length” specials during the season and the Sounders will continue to be featured on the weekly “Q It Up” sportscast that airs on both JOEtv and Q13 on Fridays.
While Keith Costigan will remain the lead play-by-play voice, Kasey Keller will be the main color commentator and Steve Zakuani will work the sidelines, there are a few changes to the rest of the broadcast team. Michelle Ludtka will take over from Jackie Montgomery fulltime as the host of the pre-game, halftime and post-game shows, and James Riley will essentially replace Zach Scott as one of the analysts that joins her. Marcus Hahnemann will also remain part of that team.
In addition to the English-language broadcasts, there will be 10 games aired locally in Spanish on KUNS. No schedule for those games has yet been made available.
Although no mention of it was made in the official release, it is Sounder at Heart’s understanding that the regional relationship with ROOT Sports will remain nearly identical. When possible, games will be aired live in regions outside the Seattle market and shown on tape delay otherwise.
Somewhat related, all indications are that the league’s move from MLS Live to ESPN+ is still a ways off from being active. No official announcement has been made, but early season games will almost certainly be made available through MLSsoccer.com until ESPN+ is active.