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New content and distribution group called MLS+ airs first show MLS Insider Friday

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, TSN and RDS, KickTV, the MLS YouTube channel, 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 June 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET and on TSN in Canada at 2:00 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. 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.

Also airing on NBC Sports Network are in-depth profiles entitled MLS 36, which debuted last year with five episodes. This season, MLS+ extends its partnership with 441 Productions to give viewers an off-the-field glimpse of star players. Episodes of MLS 36 in 2013 include:

MLS 36 on NBC Sports Network

  • Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) – Sunday, June 2
  • Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo) – Thursday June 20, 10 p.m. ET
  • Matt Besler and Aurélien Collin(Sporting Kansas City) – Sunday, June 23, 9:30 p.m. ET
  • Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution) – Premier TBD.

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

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