It has come up several times on this site that MLS ratings are dismal and depressing. Like the FanPost recently here. Yes, the raw numbers certainly look like it. However, I've stated succinctly that I wouldn't be surprised if MLS TV contracts double in value anyway. This article published yesterday on an investing site lays out the business side of TV contracts and draws the conclusion that a confluence of factors are MLS's favor.
Major League Soccer Wants a Brand New Television Deal, by Leon Lazaroff. I highly suggest you read it before moving on.
Comcast and Time Warner want live content. TV programmers are going to listen if they want to justify charging the fees they do to consumers. You can read more about the cord cutting numbers here. Live content is now the king of television for good reason.
Fox Sports now has a nationally dedicated channel and World Cup 2018, 2022 TV rights. Comcast, the owner of NBC, is certainly looking for ways to gain and maintain more paying customers. More sports channels looking for content that carries a savvy and young demographic.
Every major sport in America is locked up for a long while. Even college conferences. The article points out the NBA contract is the only league not locked up between now and 2020. Sports and TV are becoming really get bed buddies. MLS wouldn't be a bad property to lock in as well.
People lament the size of the TV deal with ESPN forgetting that it was signed in 2006! Before David Beckham, before Toronto stormed in (before flaming out), before the trio of Cascadia, Union, and Orlando. Heck, even before we got a few more billionaire owners in the likes of a Indonesian and an oil sheik. Yes, I will note that MLS matches are consistently the worst live programming on ESPN. But that isn't hard when the use it for filler against NFL Sunday Night Football and AMC's The Walking Dead (both get around 15-20 million viewers each).
It wasn't mentioned in the article, but I'll mention it here. The production and ratings for MLS have been solid and even rival the ESPNs ratings. For proof look at the average ratings of Unimas and ESPN in this comment. Not much daylight between them. Those TV rights are also up for grabs as well next year.
Keep the faith
Things are going to get better.