Chicago Fire adopts streaming strategy with ESPN rights deal

Major League Soccer franchise Chicago Fire has signed a three-year agreement with US sports broadcaster ESPN, taking its local match rights to its soon-to-be launched OTT service, ESPN Plus.

The agreement, which runs from 2018 to 2020, ends the Fire’s partnership with NBC Sports Chicago in favour of adopting a live streaming approach to its rights.

ESPN will become the club’s exclusive media rights holder, with ESPN Plus to be the home for live local coverage of Fire matches in both English and Spanish beginning this season.

ESPN Plus will have exclusive coverage of 27 Fire matches in 2018. Because ESPN Plus will also be the exclusive home for all MLS Live out-of-market matches after it launches, Fire fans – both in Chicago and around the country – will be able to watch all 27 ESPN Plus matches anywhere in the US.

The Fire’s other seven regular season games will be televised nationally on ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision.

Fire fans will be provided with free access to matches until the launch of ESPN Plus in the US this spring. During the free access period, MLS Live, the league’s out-of-market streaming package, is available at and on the MLS Mobile App, Apple TV and Roku.

Following the launch of ESPN Plus, Fire games will be available exclusively on ESPN Plus as part of the $4.99 (€4) monthly subscription.