It will be easier than ever to watch Major League Soccer games from East Asia, as the league announced on Thursday new and expanded television agreements in the region.
MLS has expanded its partnership with China's Le Sports from live streams across digital platforms to include televised live games in mainland China. In addition, MLS also has 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, games from the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs 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 of MLS Business Ventures in a statement. “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 broadcasts of two MLS regular season matches per week, select Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs games and the MLS Cup final during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. MLS retains the rights to digital live games and news clips packages in Japan.
“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 MLS, 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 forward Masato Kudo and Toronto FC’s first-round pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, Tsubasa Endoh. The New England Revolution include two Japanese-born players in former Japan international Daigo Kobayashi and Homegrown Player Zachary Herivaux, an American of Haitian descent.
MLS is distributed in more than 140 countries and territories around the world.