MLS+ to Create Original Content for the League and Its Broadcast Partners

Richard Wolowicz

Major League Soccer has announced a brand new initiative to create hundreds of hours of original content to help promote its league.

Major League Soccer took a big step into becoming an actual major league today with the announcement of its new content creation arm MLS+. According to the press release, MLS+ will be creating new and original content with regards to the league's clubs for a multitude of television and online broadcasting partners:

Content created by MLS+ will include new television shows, digital series, mini-documentaries, mobile applications, lifestyle features, user-generated content, viral video stunts and more. MLS+ will engage with fans, wherever fans consume content: on-air, online, mobile, social, in local MLS markets. Distribution partnerships include NBC Sports Network and NBCSports.com, TSN and RDS, KickTV, the MLS YouTube channel, MLSsoccer.com and a wide range of other digital partners including Yahoo!, MedioTiempo, and SB Nation.

That last one there would include us as we're an SB Nation site. That said, no plans from our end have yet been revealed so I'm not exactly sure what this means for you yet.

What this all means for the future of the league is still a bit unclear. That said, it really is an exciting development for MLS. For too long, the league has had to rely on NBC, Fox Soccer or ESPN to create shoulder programming and other fan building TV experiences. While I hope NBC, especially, continues to put in effort, with MLS taking over some of the creation and production efforts, we hope the sports sites will be more amenable to actually airing them. That kind of stuff goes a long way toward building a TV audience.

The first show under MLS+ will be MLS Insider and it's premiering this Friday, June 21st at 7:30 PM ET.

What do you think of this development? Is it good for the league?

Full press release:

NEW YORK (June 18, 2013) - Today Major League Soccer took an innovative stride forward by introducing MLS+, a new content and distribution group that brings together top storytellers, producers and digital media partners to create a broad range of soccer programming on multiple platforms. By telling the stories behind the game, MLS+ will establish deeper connections between fans, players and Clubs and fuel the League's rapid growth.

MLS Chief Marketing Officer Howard Handler announced the creation of MLS+ at the Cynopsis Digital summit in New York today.

"Soccer in North America and MLS are soaring," Handler said. "To build on this momentum and inspire the next wave of fans, MLS+ will create hundreds of hours of premium programming per year. MLS+ will also deliver new opportunities to leverage the relationship between our fans and the commercial community."

Content created by MLS+ will include new television shows, digital series, mini-documentaries, mobile applications, lifestyle features, user-generated content, viral video stunts and more. MLS+ will engage with fans, wherever fans consume content: on-air, online, mobile, social, in local MLS markets. Distribution partnerships include NBC Sports Network and NBCSports.com, TSN and RDS, KickTV, the MLS YouTube channel, MLSsoccer.com and a wide range of other digital partners including Yahoo!, MedioTiempo, and SB Nation.

The first MLS+ creative partner is eight-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Hock, the executive producer of MLS Insider, a new magazine show that premieres on NBC Sports Network this Friday, June 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET and on TSN2 in Canada at 2 p.m. ET. Regarded as one of the best storytellers in sports, Hock has created three critically-acclaimed documentaries for ESPN Films' 30 for 30 series. For more on Hock Films, click here.

"I've always loved soccer, and this just felt like a perfect fit," Hock said. "The depth of passion within MLS culture is unlike anything else in America and Canada. We aim to immerse the viewer in very human stories - the good, the bad, the heroes, the villains - the whole range. Don't expect a highlight show."

This Friday's premiere episode of MLS Insider includes in-depth features on New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill, Philadelphia Union's Sons of Ben supporters group, and LA Galaxy midfielder Robbie Rogers. Future episodes will explore compelling stories throughout MLS.

Ø To watch or embed a trailer from the Tim Cahill feature, CLICK HERE

Ø To watch an interview with Jonathan Hock about MLS Insider, CLICK HERE.

Also airing on NBC Sports Network is MLS 36, which provides in-depth profiles and an all-access pass into the life of elite MLS players. This season, MLS+ extends its partnership with 441 Productions to give viewers an off-the-field glimpse of star players. Upcoming episodes of MLS 36 in 2013 include:

MLS 36 on NBC Sports Network

Additional MLS+ creative contributors include Prospect Productions (The Barnicle Brothers), who will create mini-documentaries, and Especial, who will create episodic digital entertainment. More programming and distribution information will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

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