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WPS, Fox Soccer in Accord

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NEW YORK Women's Professional Soccer has signed a three-year broadcast agreement with Fox Soccer Channel that will commence in April 2009, when the league officially begins game play.

FSC will televise a live national Sunday night WPS game of the week, covering a minimum of 20 matches over the course of the regular season as well as the league all-star game. The agreement has the option to be extended to a fourth year.

"Fox Soccer Channel has become the go-to place for global soccer coverage in the United States and is a tremendous broadcast platform for our league," said WPS commissioner Tonya Antonucci. WPS, created in 2007, is the successor to the Women's United Soccer Association, the first women's pro soccer league in the U.S., which folded in 2003.

"With the women's game enjoying an unprecedented surge in popularity, we are eager to showcase the world's elite players during Fox Soccer Channel's live and exclusive WPS game of the week telecasts," said David Sternberg, evp, gm, FSC. WPS will get additional exposure through FSC's multiplatform offerings, such as original studio shows and through its online site, foxsoccer.com, added Sternberg.

This is the first exclusive broadcast agreement for WPS national live-action games, though the Fox Sports Network will cover post-season and championship games. Among the cross-promotional marketing initiatives are: FSC will promote games with online and on-air tune-ins. WPS will place two FSC field boards at each Fox televised match.

WPS is also in discussions with several cable networks for regional games in local markets in a deal or deals that could be struck by the league or by any of the seven teams over the next few months, said a league representative.

Other talks are ensuing as well with broadcast and online entities for off-field content, such as profiles and fitness programming. One interested partner is Universal Sports that could use its new online platform that will launch in 2009 to carry WPS content to consumers in a variety of targeted ways, said the rep.