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MLS will remain on Fox, loses ESPN

Fox will be the only linear TV provider for regular-season games in both English and Spanish, Univision will still carry Leagues Cup.

Philadelphia Union v Los Angeles Football Club: - 2022 MLS Cup Final Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

Ever since MLS announced its streaming deal with Apple, there has been speculation around what would happen to its presence on traditional TV. We now the answer.

The league announced on Tuesday that Fox would be the only broadcaster carrying both English and Spanish regular-season and playoff games in the United States. They are scheduled to carry at least 34 regular-season games and eight playoff games including MLS Cup in each of the next four years. They will also carry 16 Leagues Cup matches. The English-language regular-season matches will be split almost evenly between FS1 and Fox, while all the Spanish-language games will be on Fox Deportes.

Univision, who has carried matches ever since the league’s beginning, will now be limited to 21 Leagues Cup matches, including the final. ESPN, the league’s most consistent and highest-rated English language broadcast partner, won’t carry any games.

Bell Media will carry games in Canada on TSN and RDS.

All regular-season, playoff and Leagues Cup matches will be streamed through AppleTV in English, Spanish and French through MLS Season Pass. Apple will start selling the service on Feb. 1. The release also says select games will be available to all AppleTV+ subscribers, but there was no confirmation that some games would be outside any paywall.

“Our linear agreements, along with our partnership with Apple, are the culmination of a series of collaborative discussions to provide our fans with the most expansive and accessible lineup of programming MLS and our sport in the U.S. and Canada have ever seen – and by a significant margin,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.

Losing both ESPN and Univision will certainly be a blow to MLS in terms of its exposure, as both averaged audiences of about twice the size of Fox in previous years. Early reports had suggested that both were likely to remain in partnerships with MLS, but there was apparently a disagreement over scheduling.

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