ESPN may still follow through with threats to launch an a la carte SVOD service built around Major League Soccer, but it won't happen for the upcoming season.
Re/code reports that the pro soccer league will still provide direct-to-consumer streaming to its subscribers on the MLS Live platform this season. This forestalls, at least for this year, a plan floated by ESPN president John Skipper last year to have the Disney-owned cable network offer MLS games on the Internet, a la carte.
As part of its broader carriage deal with the league, ESPN acquired a range of digital rights.
A direct-to-consumer MLS package would be novel for ESPN, which is the leading programmer in the pay-TV spectrum. The network still plans to carry the Cricket World Cup on the Internet, no pay-TV subscription required, in February.
"Our collaborative relationship with MLS is long term," ESPN spokesperson Katina Arnold told Re/code. "Together, we discussed several potential options for the out-of-market games and determined that having them exclusively on MLS Live and MLS Direct Kick was the right option for this season."
- read this Re/code story
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