ESPN Major League Soccer
is a promotion of Major League Soccer
, with simulcasts on ESPNHD
. Major League Soccer on ESPN2 debuted in 1996, the league's first season, and is guaranteed to stay on the network till at least 2014. From 1996 to 2006, the weekly soccer match on ESPN2
was called MLS Soccer Saturday
, but in the new contract, that was replaced by MLS Primetime Thursday
. For the 2009 season and beyond, the Thursday telecast was replaced by a variety of primtime games on Wednesdays through Saturdays. Beginning in 2009, as part of ESPN's far-reaching strategy of moving sports programming to ESPN, all matches - including MLS Cup
- are now aired on either ESPN or ESPN2.
On August 4, 2006, ESPN reached a comprehensive multimedia agreement with Soccer United Marketing
(SUM) for the rights to Major League Soccer through 2014. As part of the eight-year agreement, ESPN2 will televise 26 regular-season and three playoff MLS matches each year, all in primetime on Thursdays.
Highlights of the agreement include:
- ESPN2 will televise 26 regular-season MLS matches, primarily on Thursday nights.
- ESPN2 will televise three MLS playoff matches.
- ESPN will televise one regular-season MLS match, the MLS All-Star Game, and MLS Cup.
- Televised coverage of the first round of the MLS Draft.
- MLS telecasts can be re-aired in full or abbreviated versions on any ESPN media platforms
- Extensive footage rights for all ESPN media platforms such as SportsCenter,......