On Friday, the Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced a landmark local broadcast partnership with ESPN. What does that mean for you, our fans? Here’s an overview of what’s to come, and an FAQ:
- Fire matches will be exclusively available locally on ESPN+ through the 2020 MLS season
- ESPN+ launches later this spring. Until that time, all fans can watch our matches at no cost via MLS LIVE at LIVE.MLSsoccer.com (More: Ways to Watch MLS LIVE)
- Once ESPN+ launches, Fire games will be available exclusively within ESPN+ as part of a fan's $4.99 monthly subscription plan.
- Because ESPN+ will also be the exclusive home for all MLS LIVE out-of-market matches after it launches, Fire fans – both in Chicago and around the country – will be able to watch all 27 ESPN+ matches on ESPN+, no matter where they are in the US.
What is ESPN+, and how is it different from various ESPN channels available in current cable packages?
ESPN+ is the direct-to-consumer streaming service from ESPN, BAMTECH Media and The Walt Disney Company. ESPN+ will launch later this spring as an integrated part of a completely redesigned ESPN App. The service will be available for sports fans for a monthly subscription fee of $4.99 per month – and that includes out-of-market MLS matches thanks to the League’s partnership with ESPN+.
Do I have to pay for ESPN+? What if I have a cable package?
Yes, you will need an ESPN+ subscription, which is just $4.99 per month, and includes full access to all ESPN+ content – including Fire games, hundreds of other out-of-market MLS LIVE games and thousands of other live sports events and shows. When it launches, ESPN+ will be available as an integrated part of a completely redesigned ESPN App on mobile and OTT devices, as well as via the Web. ESPN+ is separate from, and does not require a cable package. It is additive to ESPN’s pay TV networks.
What platform is ESPN+ available on?
ESPN+ will be accessible as an integrated part of a completely redesigned ESPN App on mobile and OTT devices including iOS, Android, tvOS and Chromecast with additional platforms to be announced at a later date. It will also be available on the Web through ESPN.com.
When does ESPN+ launch?
ESPN+ will launch later this spring (exact date to be announced). Until then, our matches will be available for FREE on MLS LIVE at LIVE.MLSsoccer.com.
How many Fire matches will ESPN+ carry in 2018?
Once launched later this spring, ESPN+ will carry all 27 Fire matches that are not nationally televised. The Fire have seven nationally televised fixtures in 2018. Those include:
- Saturday, April 14 vs. LA Galaxy, 2:30 p.m. CT on Univision Deportes
- Saturday, April 21 at New York Red Bulls, 2:30 p.m. CT on Univision Deportes
- Sunday, May 20 vs. Houston Dynamo, 3 p.m. CT on UniMas
- Saturday, June 2 vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 2 p.m. CT on Univision Deportes
- Sunday, Sept. 16 vs. Orlando City SC, 4 p.m. CT on FS1
- Saturday, Sept. 29 vs. LAFC, 2:30 p.m. CT on Univision Deportes
- Sunday, Oct. 7 at D.C. United, 12 p.m. CT on ESPN
Do I NEED ESPN+ to watch the Chicago Fire in 2018?
Yes, once launched, ESPN+ will be the exclusive home for live streams through the 2020 season.
What channel will the games air on within the ESPN+ service?
ESPN+ is a non-linear, sports streaming platform, so the games will not be on a “channel”. Once you subscribe, you will be able to find content by sport, by league, by what is live at the moment or by searching for what you want.
Will I also need cable or satellite to see Fire matches?
No. ESPN+ is a direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service. It is available for a $4.99 monthly subscription fee.
What parts of Chicagoland are within the range of the local rights territory?
Because ESPN+ will also be the exclusive home for all MLS LIVE out-of-market matches after it launches, Fire fans – both in Chicago and around the country – will be able to watch all 27 ESPN+ matches anywhere in the US.
What other content is included in the deal?
ESPN+ subscribers will have full access to all content available on the platform. This includes MLS LIVE, which features hundreds of out-of-market matches from across the league, plus: hundreds of MLB and NHL games, tennis, boxing, golf, college sports, international rugby, cricket, the full library of ESPN Films (including 30 for 30) and much more.