Nineteen Atlanta United games will be broadcast regionally this season by Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast in a multi-year agreement announced Tuesday. Fox declined to say whether it is paying a rights fee as part of the deal.
The MLS expansion team’s remaining 15 games will be televised nationally by either ESPN, Fox Sports or Univision. MLS requires games that aren’t picked up nationally to be televised by a local broadcast partner so that the games can also be broadcast by MLS Live, the league’s channel.
“If you look at the Fox culture, with our UEFA rights and other international rights we have in soccer, it’s clearly a space we want to move into,” Fox Sports South general manager and vice president Jeff Genthner said. “When you look at what Atlanta United has done in season-ticket presales and fan interest, and what it has significantly accomplished before players were selected, it certainly speaks to a tremendous groundswell of support and interest.”
Atlanta United said it has sold more than 27,000 season tickets, which are part of the more than 40,000 tickets sold for the March 5 opener against New York Red Bulls at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium. That game will be televised nationally.
Atlanta United President Darren Eales said when looking for a broadcast partner he wanted one with a regional reach and high production values. Each game will use seven cameras and the broadcast will reach a minimum of 6.8 million households to as many as 10 million across a broadcast footprint that stretches from the Mississippi River, across Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, and into eastern North Carolina.
“(With this) we can be a team not only in Georgia but in the whole Southeast region,” Eales said. “With Fox Sports South, we couldn’t have a better partner to have that reach as well as that production quality.”
The regional broadcast schedule will begin with the April 8 game at Toronto. It will air on Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Go, the mobile platform. Because of potential conflicts involving Fox Sports South’s other inventory, which includes the Braves, Hawks and college football, three Atlanta United games will be broadcast on Channel 69 instead of Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast. Those games are April 22 against Real Salt Lake, Sept. 9 vs. Dallas, and Sept. 23 vs. Montreal.
The agreement includes a 30-minute pregame and postgame show, Atlanta United LIVE!, as well as a weekly 30-minute studio show, Atlanta United: Match Week, that will premiere at 6:30 p.m. April 4. Shows will be re-broadcast several times each week, according to Genthner. The shows will be taped in the Atlanta studios and will incorporate touch screens and 360-degree viewing technology.
Additionally, on Feb. 24 a preseason show, Atlanta United: Unite and Conquer, will air at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Fox Sports Southeast.
Atlanta United will hire the TV personalities for the games. Eales said they hope to hire a play-by-play announcer, analyst and sideline reporter. Those hires could be announced within two weeks.
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