US sports broadcaster ESPN has announced the renewal of its broadcast deal with US soccer organizing body the United Soccer League, which will see it continue to air action from the second and third-tier USL Championship and USL League One competitions.

ESPN, owned by media giant Disney, will broadcast over 400 games from across the two competitions, live across its myriad of channels and OTT platforms.

In addition to the USL Championship and League One, ESPN will also be the exclusive broadcast home of USL League One’s inaugural in-season cup competition, which will see its 12 teams play in smaller group competitions.

USL chief commercial officer Court Jeske said: “We have enjoyed a longstanding relationship with ESPN during which the USL has grown significantly, and we are incredibly excited to continue this relationship.”

USL has been broadcast on ESPN for nine years and was one of the first sports properties to be housed on the ESPN+ OTT service.

The announcement marks the competition of the USL’s broadcast mix for its 2024 season, with US national network CBS also taking on a slate of 100 games per year through 2027.

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Most of both ESPN’s and CBS’ broadcasts will be on their respective OTT platforms, ESPN’s ESPN+ and CBS’ Paramount+.

Between the two, a total of 35 USL matches will be syndicated on national linear TV, an increase on the nine games broadcast as such in 2023, while the remainder will be streamed.  

With the top-tier MLS shifting to a streaming-only model through its lucrative deal with the Apple TV+ platform, CBS and ESPN will be the only broadcaster to show live domestic men's soccer on linear television.

Despite this, the drive-in interest in soccer in the country ahead of the US’ joint hosting of the 2026 FIFA World Cup may reap dividends for both the broadcasters and the USL itself.