TikTok has become an official partner of North America’s top-tier Major League Soccer (MLS) through a multi-year deal that will see league-related exclusive content, in-app programming, and match highlights added to the short-form video platform.

As part of the wide-ranging deal, TikTok will gain in-stadium branding at every MLS match, while TikTok and MLS content will feature across stadium video boards.

The pair will launch a new Club Creator Network that pairs MLS clubs with TikTok creators to collaborate on new content focusing on fan-engagement initiatives including behind-the-scenes clips and player interactions.

TikTok will use its in-app creation tool Library in partnership with MLS to give creator access to league content and clips that can be used to integrate into their media. Fans can also use TikTok to access the MLS Hub, which houses content from MLS, clubs, and players.

Harish Sarma, TikTok’s global head of sports and gaming, said: “From tifos to club rivalries, MLS fans are some of the most passionate in the game, many of whom come to TikTok to react to their favorite moments across the league, build a community with other fans, and connect with the passion and authenticity of the soccer world.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with MLS to take soccer content to the next level, all while giving our community exclusive access to the game they love so much.”

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The deal builds on TikTok’s relationship with the league, which includes becoming the co-presenting sponsor of the league’s esports tournament, the eMLS Cup. The platform is also the sleeve sponsor of the MLS’ Portland Timbers in a deal struck in 2021.

Since joining the platform in 2020, MLS said it has amassed a 1.2 million following, over 256 million video views, and 2.7 billion views for #MLS. Many of its clubs are actively engaged on the platform, including LA Galaxy, Inter Miami, LAFC, Atlanta United, and Toronto FC.

David Bruce, MLS senior vice president of brand and integrated marketing, said: “Our new partnership with TikTok continues to build innovative, ambitious, and powerful programs with the world’s most forward-thinking brand in order to bring fans closer to the game.

“The Club Creator Network with TikTok fits perfectly with MLS’ vision of creating our version of the global game. We are thrilled that compelling content imagined by young and progressive creators will drive awareness to our clubs, players, matches, and major events.”

The deal comes after the US government banned the app from government devices and has threatened to ban the app in the country entirely unless the company splits with its Chinese owner ByteDance over concerns the data gathered from its users could be accessed by China.

The UK government has also banned ministers and civil servants from installing the platform on its government-issued devices citing concerns about data that the app can access, including contacts and geolocation. Staff working at UK public broadcaster the BBC have been urged to delete the platform from their corporate phones too.

Last week, TikTok announced an extension of its content deal with the UFC mixed martial arts promotion.

It joins several new partners of the MLS added in the run-up to the new season including Ticketmaster, Audi, and Deltatre, following its major global media rights deal with technology giant Apple.

The 2023 MLS season started on February 25 and will conclude with the MLS Cup final on December 9.

Image: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images