MLS Cup final moves to ABC for first time since 2008

The MLS Cup final will gain its broadest domestic distribution ever after Major League Soccer secured agreements to air the showpiece game on ABC and both the Spanish-language Univision Network and TUDN in the United States, and on TSN and TVA Sports in Canada.

It is the first time that the MLS Cup final will be aired on ABC since 2008, its original broadcast home from the outset of the league in 1996. Since then it has switched between on ESPN and Fox. The match will also be streamed live on both the ESPN and ABC apps.

This year’s final will be staged on Nov. 10 at 3pm ET.

“We’re bullish on the future of MLS, and it’s been great to use our array of distribution outlets to showcase the league,” Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president, programming and scheduling, told Front Office Sports. “Their championship game had a great history for many years on ABC, so it’s a great opportunity to take it back over to the broadcast network.”

While the move to ABC offers a potential ratings boost, the TV audience for MLS’ championship game could be affected by the fact that the game will compete against two nationally-televised National Football League games: Indianapolis Colts v Miami Dolphins (CBS, 4:05pm ET) and Los Angeles Rams v Pittsburgh Steelers (Fox, 4:25pm ET). That latter NFL game involves one of the participants in last season’s Super Bowl with the Rams, and the Steelers perennially stand as one of the NFL’s most popular teams.

“[It] really becomes tough sledding for every sports property – and it’s not just an MLS-specific issue – that is looking for clear air for their biggest and best games once college football and the NFL hit,” Magnus added.