Sportfive will continue to distribute the international media rights of the United Soccer League (USL), the organizer of the second and third-tier North American men’s competitions, as part of a partnership extension that will also see the global sports marketing agency help grow the USL's portfolio of global betting and data partnerships.
Under the new “long-term” deal, Sportfive will continue to manage the distribution of the men’s second-tier USL Championship and third-tier USL League One, as well as take on the USL Super League, the second-tier women’s competition that is due to be launched in August 2024.
The new agreement starts in 2023, with the original partnership having run from 2020 to 2022.
Sportfive brokered USL’s first international media rights deal in 2020 with Caribbean pay-TV broadcaster Flow Sports. Before partnering with Sportfive, the USL distributed its live matches internationally for free on video streaming service YouTube.
Last year, the USL secured its first broadcast partner in Italy through a deal with digital platform OneFootball, while international sports media giant ESPN agreed a new broadcast deal for Latin America and the Caribbean with the USL, running through to the end of the 2024 campaign.
Domestic rights to the leagues are held by ESPN as part of a one-year renewal covering the 2023 season struck last month. Its original three-year deal came into effect in 2020 and saw more than 750 games broadcast across its linear channels and over-the-top streaming service ESPN+.
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Thomas Klingebiel, Sportfive’s president of media, said: “American soccer continues to make an impact on the sports global landscape, so we are proud to partner with the USL to bring more of their exciting content to more international markets.”
As part of the new agreement, Sportfive said it will also “help expand USL’s sports betting streaming and data partnerships globally.”
The USL has a long relationship with international sports data and technology provider Stats Perform, which first started in the 2017 season after it became the official soccer data provider of the organization.
Stats Perform then expanded its agreement with USL in 2020, becoming the long-term official betting data rights holder for USL leagues in a deal that saw official game, team, and player data collected and distributed to licensed sportsbook and odds feeds partners.
At the same time, USL extended and expanded its partnership with international sports data and digital content firm Sportradar to cover integrity services and now audiovisual content.
Last month, Stats Perform extended its media data agreement with the USL in a deal running through 2028.
Rivals IMG Arena holds the betting data and streaming rights to the top-tier Major League Soccer through an eight-year deal that began this season.
USL chief commercial officer Court Jeske said: “The USL brand of soccer has arrived, and we are proud to expand our partnership with Sportfive to take that brand to the world.
“This long-term agreement allows us to be very intentional about our global growth and exposure while doing so with a partner we know and trust.”
Last year, USL signed a 10-year partnership deal with premium experiences company Legends to push “the next evolution” of the league’s business.
The 2023 USL Championship season began on March 11 and will run through October 14, while USL League One’s 2023 season will begin on March 17 and conclude on October 14.