Amazon has signed a local streaming deal with the Seattle Sounders, picking those rights up from YouTube TV, who held them for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
The Sports Business Journal reports that the three-year deal covers all games that aren’t nationally broadcast, and that they’ll be available for all viewers in the state of Washington. Locally, matches will still air on KCPQ, Seattle’s Fox affiliate. The Sounders are the reigning MLS Cup champions, and were bounced from the MLS Is Back tournament in the Round of 16 by LAFC, who the Sounders beat in last year’s Western Conference Final.
This deal about fits with the local strategy of MLS, and Amazon’s limited foray into local sports thusfar. Prior to the 2020 MLB season going off the rails amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon and the New York Yankees announced a deal to stream 21 games inside the YES Network footprint. MLS clubs have been amenable towards digital rights deals for local viewers to varying degrees of success. At the start of the 2018 season, four teams (including the Sounders) had local streaming deals with digital companies. Those deals have seemingly gone well to whatever degree, but the streaming deals FC Cincinnati and DC United agreed to with FloSports for the 2019 season were not as well-received.
MLS is also urging its clubs to not agree to any TV deals past the 2022 season in an attempt to line up the expiration of its national and local rights. This agreement, which ends with the 2022 season, fits into that framework. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if MLS uses the streaming deals that several of its teams have (ESPN+, YouTube TV, and Amazon Prime, to name three) as a potential springboard into larger, more encompassing rights deals at the end of 2022.