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Twitter Inks Three-Year MLS Content Deal, Including Live-Streaming Matches (EXCLUSIVE)

Twitter is kicking more sports to its social service, in a three-year deal with Major League Soccer that will include a slate of weekly programming including at least 24 live matches per season.

Last year, MLS had partnered with Facebook for a similar lineup of live weekly games. While Facebook is losing the Major League Soccer matches, the social giant just announced a significant deal with Major League Baseball, under which Facebook has exclusive global rights to 25 games this season.

Twitter’s deal with Major League Soccer is part of the broader move by digital players, including Facebook, YouTube and Amazon, to nab a bigger piece of the sports action. The goal: to draw in more users and have them stay engaged on their platforms longer.

Under the MLS/Twitter pact, at least 24 matches per season that are broadcast on Univision networks in Spanish will now be available in English on Twitter. The live MLS games will be available to Twitter users only in the U.S.

The live-streaming matches begin this weekend on Twitter via @UnivisionSports and @MLS. Univision is producing the games out of Miami. The first MLS match to be streamed on Twitter will feature Real Salt Lake hosting expansion club Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) this Saturday, March 10, at 3:30 p.m. ET.

In addition to the live games, MLS will provide Twitter with a package of on-demand highlights each week via MLS’s Twitter handles, @MLS and @FutbolMLS. The parties also will also collaborate on content related to the league’s big events during the season. The league’s on-demand content will be available to all Twitter users worldwide; Twitter plans to sell ad packages for the content.

Fans of the American soccer league skew younger — and are more socially engaged — than any other U.S. pro sport, according to Chris Schlosser, MLS’s SVP of media. Twitter’s deal with MLS was led by Kay Madati, Twitter’s VP and global head of content partnerships.

The pact is an extension of the partnership between MLS and Twitter over the last several years to create content around the league’s events, including the MLS All-Star Game, Heineken Rivalry Week, Decision Day and MLS Cup.

Separately, Google’s YouTube TV recently struck a pair of pacts with two individual MLS clubs — Los Angeles Football Club and the Seattle Sounders — that give the over-the-top subscription TV service exclusive streaming rights to many of their games.

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