NBC Sports Group, ESPN Announce MLS Programming Slate

The 2012 MLS schedule was released yesterday with 323 regular season matches on deck, and ESPN, Galavision, and newcomer NBC Sports are set to air a total of 89 matches this year, while 30 games featuring Canadian clubs will run on TSN/TSN2 in English and RDS/RDS2 in French.

The NBC Sports Group announced its plans for the 2012 MLS season, the first under the new three-year media rights partnership, by offering live coverage of 41 regular season matches, the most of any MLS broadcast partner, in addition to five MLS Cup playoff games.

The 17th season of Major League Soccer on ESPN will begin Monday, March 12, at 9:30 p.m. ET, on ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes with the live telecast of the Portland Timbers vs. Philadelphia Union match from PGE Park in Portland, Ore.  The inter-conference matchup will be the culmination of Major League Soccer’s First Kick 2012, a series of nationally televised matches to open the 2012 season-opening week (March 10-12).

Galavision will broadcast 27 MLS regular-season games live, generally on Sunday nights. Clubs such as the Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls will all appear on the channel more than three times each this season.

NBC begins its live MLS coverage on Sunday, March 11 when FC Dallas host the New York Red Bulls on the new NBC Sports Network, which will air a total of 38 regular-season games this year. The defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy make seven appearances on NBC Sports Network, including a rematch of MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo on May 26. The LA Galaxy’s first appearance is March 31 as they host the New England Revolution. MLS Cup runners-up Houston Dynamo also appear seven times including the unveiling of their new stadium, BBVA Compass Stadium, on May 12 as they host D.C. United.

NBC will broadcast three regular-season games: Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders FC on Sept. 15, New York vs. Chicago Fire on Oct. 6, and Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls on Oct. 27 – the first game of a tripleheader on the last Saturday of the regular season that includes Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United and Portland Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes on NBC Sports Network. The three matches this season on NBC are the most regular-season MLS games on an English-language broadcast network since 2002.

Highlights of NBC Sports Group’s 2012 MLS coverage:

NBC Sports Group broadcasts 41 games, most of any MLS broadcast partner in 2012.

Three games on NBC are the most regular-season MLS games on an English-language broadcast network since 2002.

Rematch of MLS Cup on May 26 – Houston Dynamo vs. LA Galaxy on NBC Sports Network.

Seven games featuring MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy.

Opening of BBVA Compass Stadium, the new home of the Houston Dynamo, on May 12 on NBC Sports Network.

All games on NBC and NBC Sports Network will consist of pre-game and post-game coverage. The NBC Sports Group will expand upon the successful NBC SportsTalk platform with a Pro SoccerTalk blog that will start with MLS season.

Along with already-established MLS partnerships with five Comcast SportsNets (California, Chicago, Mid-Atlantic, New England and Philadelphia), this new media rights partnership provides the league with coverage across the NBC Sports Group’s unique four-tier portfolio of assets: broadcast network, national cable, regional sports networks, and digital.

For NBC Sports Group’s complete schedule, CLICK HERE.

Highlights of ESPN’s 2012 MLS coverage:

All 21 (11 on ESPN2, nine on ESPN, one exclusively on ESPN Deportes) regular season matches will be available in high definition and carried on ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio, ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN3, and WatchESPN.

Top three teams by appearances: current MLS champions Los Angeles Galaxy (eight), New York Red Bulls (seven), and Seattle Sounders (six).

ESPN will televise the only regular season meeting between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, May 5, live from the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA.

Two of the three SuperClásico matches between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA, Major League Soccer’s only intra-city rivalry (derby) matches, is exclusively on ESPN networks (Saturday, May 19, at 10:30 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 12, at 11 p.m.).

Seven other matches will feature regional rivals – New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., in the East; Houston vs. Dallas in Texas; and Seattle vs. Portland in the Northwest.

The 2012 MLS on ESPN series will include a number of international matches featuring MLS clubs, the MLS All-Star Game, several MLS Cup Playoffs matches and the 2012 MLS Cup (schedule TBD).

For ESPN’s complete MLS schedule, CLICK HERE.