The United Soccer League (USL), the recently upgraded second-tier of North American soccer, has expanded its media reach for the 2017 season.
Under a renewal with ESPN, an increased slate of USL games will be shown across ESPNU, the broadcaster’s outlet for college sports and other programming, and the streaming service ESPN3.
This coming July, two fixtures will be shown on ESPNU - the Tampa Bay Rowdies versus FC Cincinnati and San Antonio FC versus OKC Energy FC - as well as November’s USL Cup.
ESPN3 will also continue air the USL Game of the Week, while ESPN FC, ESPN’s online source for soccer news, will provide league features and information.
ESPN enters its second season as a USL broadcast partner having televised last October’s USL Cup final.
“ESPN’s continued support of the USL has been phenomenal,” said USL executive vice president and chief revenue officer Tom Veit. “We are delighted to expand our relationship with them for 2017, and bring some of the league’s best games in the regular season to television.”
All games will be produced by USL Productions, the league’s US$10 million broadcast unit based in south Florida, and also made available via the USL Match Center.
Meanwhile, SiriusXM has also agreed to provide live radio coverage of one game per week and a weekly one-hour show each Monday throughout the season. Like ESPN, SiriusXM is expanding its USL coverage this year having transmitted October’s final.
The 30-team USL, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, has more than doubled in size since 2014. In January, the US Soccer Federation upgraded the league to division two status, putting it alongside the North American Soccer League (NASL) and one level below Major League Soccer (MLS).