Why LigaMX and MLS Should Merge
Shortest post yet.
OK I'll expand on that point a bit, but do know that the driving force here is money. LigaMX and MLS are two leagues that have done things very differently and have become very good at some aspects of running a league and very bad at other aspects. In fact, they each seem to have perfected exactly what the other one is incapable of doing. LigaMX brings history, ample opportunities to win, the most talented league in North America, a league that knows how to sell stars to Europe for profit, and knows how to draw a television audience. MLS knows how to make a ton of money, grow steadily, offer investment opportunities other leagues can't, and sits on one of the most valuable sports markets in the world.
And where these leagues succeed is where the other league struggles. MLS has come a long way since 1996, but its presence on television has been stagnant at best. LigaMX is a skilled and competitive league, that still has teams who struggle paying players from time to time.
A merger between these two leagues would even both of them out. Bringing a stable, popular, exciting, and growing league to rabid sports fans of three countries, least we forget about Canada, is how you can make a lot of money.
Just how much money? NBC Sports recently signed a six year deal with the EPL with an estimated value of $800 million to $1 billion. For 20 EPL teams that comes out to $6.6 million a year. For reference, in 2022, the last year of MLS's media rights deal, they'll have 30 teams splitting $90 million that season for $3 million per team. MLS's ratings are close to the EPL's, but still behind. But LigaMX?
Well their baseline is triple the EPL's ratings in the US. In fact LigaMX playoff matches regularly outdraw marquee NBA games. And if you're an advertiser, TUDN, an approximate analogue for Spanish language ESPN that carries MLS and LigaMX matches in the US, has an average viewing age that is 7 years younger than ESPN. And as the 6th most popular sports network in the US, they are outdrawing MLB and the NBA's own cable channels. In terms of chasing advertising dollars, it matters that the Latinx population of the United States is the fastest growing demographic and represent roughly 20% of the overall population of the United States. Hell, the Mexican National Team plays more matches in the US than the US National Team does! Clearly there is money to be made by playing more Mexican teams in the United States.
All of these factors come together and point to the awesome potential a LigaMX-MLS merger has. And this isn't coming out of thin air. Atlas owners are openly discussing the potential. And there was that one time when MLS commissioner Don Garber said the "ultimate dream" is "a league that is combined in some way." And if these things are bubbling to the surface in public, you can safely assume these conversations have been on-going behind closed doors for a long time now.
And as an American soccer fan, I am 100% in on this. I want this to happen. I know this is sacrilege to traditionalists. It feels like a money grab. And you know what, it is. But it's also a deal to ensure survival. The EPL just signed a billion dollar rights deal in the US. The Bundesliga has opened offices in the US to encroach on the North American market. La Liga keeps trying to host matches in Miami. The International Champions Cup was a blatant dry run of a super league hosting matches all over the world. MLS and LigaMX are under attack. And if a European Super League does come into existence before long, these two leagues may very well be relegated to the back-burner of sporting interest.
A North American Super League, a name which will have to be different, is the best chance Mexico, the United States, and Canada have at preserving their soccer relevance in their own countries and guaranteeing their futures. And will produce a spectacular sporting giant.
Club America vs LAFC, Leon vs Atlanta, New York Red Bulls vs Monterrey, Toronto vs Cruz Azul. Regularly. The best teams we have in North America fighting it out on the pitch every year to determine the best in the region? It's a dream come true. In fact, the only downsides are the logistics. People struggle to come up with an idea of how this league would work, so they give up, or say it's impossible.
As a soccer fan, the sporting side of this merger is too tempting to pass up. Bringing some of the best technical know-how to Cincinnati is exactly what I have been hoping for all my life as a soccer fan. Give me the best possible soccer here in Cincinnati. And putting FC Cincinnati into a league with the best of the best from LigaMX would be exactly that. Throw in the advertising dollars that would chase after this league and you can see the beginnings of a financial juggernaut growing into the 2026 World Cup. 2027 and beyond? It's a rival to Europe's best leagues.
If you're a soccer fan in Mexico, the United States, and Canada, this is the dream. Making something unique to North America to rival not just European soccer supremacy but taking on Hockey and Baseball. The lead up to the 2026 World Cup is too big to miss out on, and would make that World Cup a showcase for one of the world's best leagues.