MLS, through its marketing arm SUM, owns the rights to the 2006 World Cup, and packaged to them to ABC/ESPN in early 2002 along with MLS games from 2002-2006, the 2002 World Cup, and 2003 Women's World Cup. SUM paid $40 million for the rights to the 2002 & 2006 World Cups, and 2003 Women's World Cup. [Univision paid $150 m for spanish-speaking rights for 2002]. The articles below talk about the risk that the 2002 WC wouldn't have been on U.S. English-speaking TV at all without some creative packaging, and how SUM got a bit of a windfall when the 2003 Women's World Cup was moved from China to the U.S. due to the SARS outbreak:http://www.sweetspotsoccer.com/headl...002/01/02.htmlhttp://www.usatoday.com/sports/socce...-cash-in_x.htm
with respect to 2006, the mouse reps are playing coy, but SUM execs say they get air time for free:
"The networks, owned by The Walt Disney Co., acquired the rights from Soccer United Marketing, an affiliate of Major League Soccer. SUM said it in essence gets the air time for free and sells the advertising, while the networks' affiliates sell some advertising time.
"Leah LaPlaca, ESPN's senior director of programming and acquisitions, declined comment on the financial arrangements."http://cbs.sportsline.com/soccer/story/8745001http://www.ussoccerplayers.com/lates...ws/487445.html
and numerous wire stories last week.
It had been widely reported in 2002 that SUM gets the air time "in essence for free," because ABC doesn't have to pay them directly for it. ABC/ESPN "paid" for the WC rights, though, by having to broadcast MLS games for 5 years, with their tiny ratings. But ABC didn't have to put up any $$$, just air time. The MLS was desperate to remain on the air, and smartly packaged themselves with the World Cups to get air time.
This deal has turned out better than expected, due to the U.S. success in 2002, and the move of the 2003 Women's World Cup back to the U.S.
as for high World Cup TV ratings in 2002:http://www.columbuswired.net/Sports/...%20_062502.htm
"ESPN's Friday morning telecast of the U.S. vs. Germany quarterfinal match on June 21 at 7:30 a.m. ET, seen in an average of 3.77 million television homes based on a 4.36 rating, is the network's most-watched and highest-rated soccer telecast ever, according to Nielsen Media Research data. Also, the telecast is ESPN's most-viewed program ever in the second
quarter of a year (April - June). ...
"Additional ratings highlights from U.S. - Germany:
ESPN's highest-rated program of the year among men 18-34 (5.32 rating)
Cable's most-viewed morning (7A-1PM) program ever among men 18-34 (1,351,571 impressions).
ESPN's morning telecasts of 21 World Cup matches through June 21 have averaged a 1.09 rating, up 230% over the 0.33 average rating for the 1:30 - 9:30 a.m. time period in June 2001. Television households for the matches on ESPN have averaged 948,000, up 251% from the time period last year.
ESPN2's 33 telecasts have averaged a 0.57 rating and 476,000 households, a ratings increase of 418% (0.11 rating in 2001) and household increase of 473% (83,000 television homes) over the time period last year."