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MLS and US Soccer strike content pact with Bleacher report

Major League Soccer (MLS) and the United States Soccer Federation has partnered with Turner’s Bleacher Report brand in a digital content development and distribution focused deal.

The new multi-year deal, which is set to run through until 2022, has been valued at a seven-figure sum by Forbes, with the purpose of Bleacher Report publishing a variety of content across its channels to generate an interest in US soccer across the world.

The deal was generated by the commercial rights manager of the MLS and US Soccer, Soccer United Marketing.

Bleacher Reports soccer-focused channel, known as B/R Football, is popular amongst football fans, with just over 18 million followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and averages around 217 million video views per month. The soccer content will be distributed via the B/R app and the aforementioned social channels. The deal also covers the successful US women’s national team.

“B/R Football is the No. 1 digital media destination for young soccer fans and this new partnership provides a deeper library of soccer content that our fans crave,” started Raphael Poplock, Bleacher Report senior vice president of new business development.

“It will also offer an increased presence for top MLS and U.S. Soccer content with one of the most engaged audiences in the sport, while leveraging our innovative sales solutions to most effectively connect with them.”

There has already been new MLS-based content seen across the B/R platforms throughout the summer, which will be sure to increase when the regular season returns in the autumn period where the league will be concluded.

According to Forbes, July was one of the most successful months of engagement for the B/R Football channels with 140 million interactions.

The MLS’s senior vice president of media, Seth Bacon, hinted to Forbes that the deal could see Turner be a part of the negotiations on any future North American soccer league’s broadcast rights contract.

“We will go first to ESPN, Fox, and Univision, but this deal definitely opens the door for Bleacher Report to have a voice in the conversation.”

The US$90 million per year deal that the MLS has with ESPN, Fox and Univision is set to expire in 2022 and with another possible organisation hoping to be involved in future deals, it opens up the opportunity for greater broadcast revenues and development and growth of the league.

It is understood that Turner, owner of the Bleacher Report brand, is exploring the possibilities of being able to secure streaming packages now that this deal has been finalised.

Author: Jake Wilkin