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What the USL’s new media rights deal with CBS means for teams, fans

“We’re going with a zig while the marketplace is going for a zag," says the USL.

5 min read

In 2015, the USL Championship – freshly rebranded from USL Pro – aired its matches on YouTube, sharing space with cooking videos, unboxings, and vlogs. That season culminated in a landmark deal to air the league’s title game on ESPN3, the then-name of ESPN’s online streaming platform.

Fast forward eight years, and the USL is set to enter an agreement with CBS to air 100 matches in partnership with one of the country’s premier, historic media companies.

Multiple games a season will air alongside the NFL, college football, and 60 Minutes on over-the-air CBS; 20 matches will end up on CBS Sports Network, and 75 more will air on free-to-watch, soccer-specific CBS Sports Golazo Network. There will also be some sort of content integration on the network’s existing soccer talk shows in this deal that spans the USL Championship and USL League One.

It’s a clear step forward, and the league believes that their enhanced platform is now a differentiating factor.

“Much of the marketplace is moving away from large-platform broadcasts to exclusivity on streaming services behind paywalls,” Court Jeske, the USL’s Chief Commercial Officer, tells Backheeled. “We’re going with a zig while the marketplace is going for a zag.”

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