Major League Soccer unveiled its playoffs TV schedule on Thursday, highlighted by a Thanksgiving Day game on Fox as one of seven games on free-to-air broadcast television.
All 13 games of the postseason will be nationally televised, starting with six in the first round from Nov. 20 to 23. Univision and TUDN will have a doubleheader on Nov. 20, a Saturday; ABC and ESPN will split a twin bill on Nov. 21; and FS1 will have a doubleheader on Nov. 23.
Univision’s first-round games will have English-language audio simulcasts through the SAP function on a remote control. Those games will also be televised in English in the local markets of each participating team on their local broadcast partners, such as PHL17 for the Union.
The conference semifinals start on Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, and with the No. 1 seed in each conference getting a first-round bye it’s a safe bet that one of those teams will be in that game. Fox’s broadcast, scheduled for 4:30 p.m., will follow its Chicago Bears-Detroit Lions NFL game to start the traditional Thanksgiving triple-header.
CBS will have its NFL game, Las Vegas Raiders-Dallas Cowboys, at the same time as Fox’s MLS game. The NFL game will probably crush everything else at that hour for viewership, and MLS and Fox will know that. If you figure in advance that it’s going to get crushed, you might as well put on a live sports event of your own and see how it does.
Two more conference semifinals will air on Sunday, Nov. 28, split between ESPN and ABC. FS1 will have the fourth semifinal on Tuesday, Nov. 30.
Fox and MLS executives might be quietly hoping that the Seattle Sounders win the Western Conference and land in that time slot. Seattle’s big-time players and big-time crowd would be good for TV, and a 1:30 p.m. local time kickoff would get the fans in attendance home in time for dinner.
In the East, the New England Revolution are running away with the conference and could also end up in the Thanksgiving game. The Patriots are at home on the 28th, so the Revs will surely be in the Thursday or Tuesday time slots.
The conference finals are set for Saturday, Dec. 4, on FS1; and Sunday, Dec. 5, on ABC. Which conference goes into which time slot will be determined later.
In the playoffs’ first three rounds, ABC and ESPN’s games will also air in Spanish on ESPN Deportes, and Fox and FS1′s games will also be on Fox Deportes.
The championship game is set for Saturday, Dec. 11, on ABC, UniMás, and TUDN, at the highest remaining seed.
MLS playoffs schedule
All times listed are Eastern.
Saturday, Nov. 20: Noon and 3 p.m. on Univision and TUDN, with each participating team’s game also on its local TV partner
Sunday, Nov. 21: 3 p.m. on ABC and ESPN Deportes; 5:30 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN Deportes
Tuesday, Nov. 23: Doubleheader with times TBD on FS1 and Fox Deportes
Thursday, Nov. 25: 4:30 p.m. on Fox and Fox Deportes
Sunday, Nov. 28: 3 p.m. on ABC and ESPN Deportes; 5:30 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN Deportes
Tuesday, Nov. 30: Time TBD on FS1 and Fox Deportes
Saturday, Dec. 4: Time TBD on FS1 and Fox Deportes
Sunday, Dec. 5: 3 p.m. on ABC and ESPN Deportes
Saturday, Dec. 11: 3 p.m. on ABC, UniMás and TUDN