Spanish-language lovers of Major League Soccer will have to wait a little longer for good news for the upcoming season. Although negotiations are still proceeding, it appears MLS and Univision are still far apart on a deal for Spanish-language broadcast rights to matches.
The league already has a streaming partner in Apple TV+. Apple paid $2.5 billion for the rights to stream every MLS and Leagues Cup match for the next 10 years, beginning in the 2023 season. The deal also includes select MLS Next and MLS Next Pro matches, exclusive live analysis and content, and includes a free subscription for every MLS season ticket holder. Streamers will be able to choose English or Spanish language broadcasts for every game streamed on AppleTV+.
That is one of the major hang-ups for any deal between MLS and Univision. Not having exclusive Spanish-language rights to streams partially negates the wide-reaching broadcast range of Univision. The network is also upset that MLS’s agreement with Apple means that the tech giant owns exclusive streaming rights. Univision’s own streaming service ViX+ will therefore not be allowed to stream any MLS games.
Univision’s ultimate stated goal is to position itself as the home of soccer in the United States. It already owns the streaming rights to Liga MX, the top professional soccer league in Mexico. Earlier this year it also acquired the rights to stream Nations League matches, as well as World Cup qualifier matches. MLS has expanded widely over the last 15 years, more than doubling its number of clubs and cementing its claim as the fastest-growing soccer league in the world, so it’s a big streaming prize for Univision to lose out on.
Not having exclusive Spanish-language rights to games is understandably a big hang-up for Univision. According to their own data, 90% of Hispanic soccer watchers prefer to watch it in their own language. In fact, 65% of non-Hispanics also prefer to watch matches in Spanish. Univision also owns 57% of the viewership of soccer in the U.S., so it’s no surprise it is pursuing the MLS deal so closely.
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