U.S. Soccer announced a new multi-year media rights deal for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Friday, an agreement that will see the historic tournament broadcast exclusively on ESPN+ starting with this year’s edition and running through 2022.
It’s a landmark development for the Open Cup, which for the past 106 years has welcomed teams from all levels of the American soccer pyramid, from amateur to MLS, to compete for one of the longest-running trophies in world soccer as well as the Concacaf Champions League berth and $300,000 in prize money that accompanies it.
Under the deal, all Open Cup matches from the opening round through the final will air exclusively on ESPN+, the streaming service which already features hundreds of MLS games and other top soccer competitions from around the world. The arrangement includes broadcast rights to all languages.
The deal was negotiated by Soccer United Marketing on U.S. Soccer’s behalf.
“The U.S. Open Cup is America's version of what is truly unique about soccer around the world – knockout-format club tournaments that invite the 'Davids' and the 'Goliaths' from all levels of the sport to compete against one another to determine the nation's top team,” said ESPN executive VP of programming and scheduling Burke Magnus in a statement.
“This exciting property joins a robust collection of soccer's best domestic cup competitions on ESPN+.”
The 2019 Open Cup kicks off May 7-8 with the First Round, which features 38 amateur and third-tier pro teams from across the United States. Twenty-five second-division pro teams enter in the Second Round on May 14-15, while the 21 U.S.-based MLS join the competition in the Fourth Round, which opens on June 12.
The Houston Dynamo are the reigning Open Cup champions; MLS teams have won every Open Cup since the league’s debut in 1996 with the exception of the 1999 edition, where the Rochester Rhinos mounted a Cinderella run to the trophy.