Major League Soccer announced today new and expanded television agreements across Asia, increasing MLS’ exposure to the majority of the world’s most populous continent, and reaching new fans in China and Japan. MLS has expanded its partnership with China’s Le Sports from live stream across digital platforms to now include televised live games in mainland China. MLS also announced a new partnership with Japan’s Fuji TV to televise regular season matches. The Le Sports and MLS digital partnership, announced in 2015, has been expanded to a television deal to include multiple live MLS regular season matches per week; the AT&T MLS All-Star Game; the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoff games and MLS Cup. In addition, Le Sports will continue to carry highlights, player features and other MLS content across its digital platforms.
“As we continue to expand the League’s global reach, China is a priority market for our growth. This expanded partnership with Le Sport provides our growing fan base with an additional opportunity to consume MLS. Le Sport’s commitment to increase MLS’s footprint across their extensive media platforms is a terrific example of our partnership with one of China’s leading media companies,” said Gary Stevenson, President & Managing Director, MLS Business Ventures. “We are very focused on broadening our reach in the Asian market and the Le Sport and Fuji deals announced today are a big part of that growth.”
Mr. Lei Zhenjian, CEO of Le Sports, commented on the partnership: “The partnership between MLS and Le Sports will benefit not only both sides, but also hundreds of millions of football fans in China, since MLS has set up a distinguished competition format and attracted quite a lot of the world’s famous football stars. Based on the initiative of cooperation, we will show MLS to our audience through all our platforms. We will also work on growing the brand image of MLS in China.”
The deal with Fuji TV will include broadcast of two MLS regular season matches per week; select Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoff games and MLS Cup during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. MLS retains the rights to digital live games and news clips packages in Japan. MLS is distributed in more than 140 countries and territories around the world.
“We are very excited to broadcast MLS for soccer fans in Japan. We are showing a lot of international and domestic soccer content on our channel ‘Fuji TV NEXT’ and are grateful to add MLS. MLS is one of the fastest growing professional soccer leagues in the world and is attracting a lot of attention in Japan,” said Shigenori Ioki, Senior Director, Pay TV Business, Fuji TV. “Great players from North America, star players from around the world and Japanese players create lots of news topics and interests. We are confident MLS will attract a lot of viewers in Japan. We are very proud to become the broadcaster of MLS in Japan.”
With four Japanese players currently in the League, Fuji TV will be a consistent destination for MLS fans in Japan to follow their countrymen. Leading the contingent of Japanese players are Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s standout Masato Kudo; Toronto FC’s first-round pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, Tsubasa Endoh; as well as New England Revolution’s Japanese-Haitian Homegrown Player Zachary Herivaux, and FIFA U-20 World Cup participant Daigo Kobayashi.
In addition to Le Sports and Fuji TV, Sportcast in Taiwan is currently in its second season of a multi-year broadcast deal and StarHub in Singapore, in its final year of a two-year partnership, each which includes broadcast coverage of regular season, AT&T MLS All-Star Game, the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoff games and MLS Cup. Together with previously-announced beIN SPORTS and ESPN International across Asia Pacific, the six broadcasters further strengthen MLS’ presence across Asia.
As part of MLS’ continued focus to bring the League to more fans around the world and grow as a global media property, MLS’ international broadcast portfolio now includes: Sky Sports in the United Kingdom, pan-European broadcaster Eurosport, Globosat in Brazil, Abu Dhabi Media in the Middle East and North Africa, Le Sports in mainland China, beIN SPORTS across Southeast Asia and Australia, FOX Sports Latin America and FOX Sports Africa, Sportcast in Taiwan, StarHub in Singapore, Fuji TV in Japan, together with ESPN for select games across their international platforms. Domestic partnerships with ESPN, FOX, Univision, TSN and RDS provide broadcasts of MLS games throughout the United States and Canada. To view a global map and a list of all MLS players by birthplace, please click here.