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How to watch the MLS

Headshot of Dave Schafer
Researched by
Dave SchaferContributing Writer
Headshot of Vilja Johnson
Headshot of Bri Field
Reviewed by
Updated 2/8/23

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In the immortal words of Dani Rojas, “Football is life.” No, we’re not talking about American football—we’re talking about the original, the world’s most popular sport, otherwise known as soccer. Major League Soccer (MLS) is the professional soccer league for the United States (and a few Canadian teams). If you’re hungry for MLS action, you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll cover all the (sometimes confusing) ways to watch MLS. We’ll also offer recommendations on the best services. Put your shin guards on, and let’s get down to business.

The best ways to watch MLS

Soccer-related icons representing the three best ways to watch MLS
  • DIRECTV: DIRECTV is the best traditional TV service for MLS fans. The DIRECTV Genie is an excellent DVR, and the service itself covers all the channels and features you need for MLS coverage.
  • fuboTV: fuboTV is our pick for the best MLS streaming service. It has all the channels you need for national broadcasts, plus some local networks for in-market games. It also has a wide selection of Spanish-language channels for additional MLS content.
  • ESPN+: ESPN+ is the best way to get out-of-market MLS games. While you can go with MLS DIRECT KICK, ESPN+ is only a little more expensive and offers content for all sports, not just soccer. It’s an easy recommendation in our book.

If you want to watch every MLS game

These are the channels and services you’ll need to get the most MLS games:

  • ABC (some national games)
  • FOX (some national games)
  • FS1 (some national games)
  • ESPN (some national games)
  • ESPN+ or MLS DIRECT KICK (out-of-market games)
  • Access to regional sports networks (RSNs) (local, in-market games)

Learn more about how to watch local channels.

Additionally, soccer has a large number of Spanish-language simulcasts and dual-language games that can be toggled between English and Spanish. For these, you’ll need the following channels:

  • ESPN Deportes (Spanish-language games from ESPN and ABC)
  • FOX Deportes (Spanish-language games from FOX and FS1)
  • TUDN (English/Spanish dual-language broadcasts)
  • UniMas (English/Spanish dual-language broadcasts)
  • Univision (English/Spanish dual-language broadcasts)

Most providers include at least one or two of these Spanish-language channels, and you can typically add more with a Spanish add-on. In particular, fuboTV carries a lot of Spanish content.

What are in-market and out-of-market games?

In-market games either feature your local team or directly impact them in some way, like games that will impact who plays your team in the playoffs.

Out-of-market games are all other games, aside from a handful broadcast nationally.

How to watch in-market MLS games

In-market MLS games include nationally broadcast games and local broadcasts for your home team. These are spread out over a large number of channels. ABC, FOX, FS1, and ESPN each carry a portion of the national broadcasts, while your regional sports networks cover games for your local team.

ABC, FOX, FS1, and ESPN are all available with most cable, fiber, and satellite TV plans. Many live streaming services also carry them—examples include YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and Sling TV. You can also pick up ABC and FOX with an HD antenna.

Regional sports networks are available with most TV packages, and some streaming services carry some (mostly NBC). You can also pick some up with an antenna. In general, cord-cutters will need either a TV subscription or an antenna to get all their local games.

Infographic explaining the difference between in-market and out-of-market games

How to watch out-of-market MLS games

Out-of-market MLS games—local broadcasts for teams outside your area—are available on ESPN+ and MLS DIRECT KICK. Without one of these, you won’t be able to watch out-of-market games. ESPN+ is a streaming service that offers tons of sports content for $9.99 per month (or $99 per year).

MLS DIRECT KICK is a league-specific premium add-on for cable and satellite TV plans. At $89 per year, it’s a little cheaper than ESPN+, and it offers the same MLS games. The main downside is you don’t get access to all the non-MLS content on ESPN+ (there’s a lot).

How to stream MLS games

If you’re looking for streaming options for the MLS, you’re in luck—there are several excellent choices.

  • DIRECTV STREAM: This is a streaming version of DIRECTV’s service—no satellite dish required. It offers a wide selection of channels for catching MLS games, including ABC, FOX, FS1, ESPN, and Univision. DIRECTV STREAM also offers most of the RSNs, so you can catch your local games. Prices start at around $70 per month.
  • Hulu + Live TV: Hulu’s live streaming service comes bundled with the regular Hulu service, and it offers a lot of content for the price. MLS fans can catch games on ABC, FOX, ESPN, FS1, and more. It also carries in-market games with NBC. Unfortunately, that’s the only RSN offered. Plans start at around $70 per month.
  • YouTube TV: YouTube TV carries ABC, ESPN, FOX, and FS1. You can also get NBC for regional sports, though it lacks the smaller RSNs you’d get with cable. It starts at around $65 per month.
  • Sling TV: Sling TV is one of the most affordable live-TV streaming options, with plans starting at less than $50 per month. It’s got the basics covered for national games, but lacks ABC and carries no RSNs at all, which is a bummer for sports fans.
  • fuboTV: fuboTV is an interesting option for MLS fans. This streaming service is geared specifically towards sports and carries everything you’d want for MLS, including some local channels. Prices start at $69.99 around $70 per month.
  • ESPN+: This is your streaming ticket to out-of-market MLS games. ESPN+ starts at $99 per year and offers a ton of sports content, including 350+ MLS games every season.

Get ready to hit the pitch

The best way to watch MLS is DIRECTV with ESPN+ added on. This gets you all the channels you need for national and in-market games, plus all the out-of-market games you can handle. If you prefer to stream all your soccer, you can go with fuboTV, which packs tons of sports content, including Spanish-language programming, into a reasonably priced streaming service.

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Contributing researcher
Headshot of Dave Schafer
Researched by
Dave SchaferContributing Writer

Dave Schafer is a freelance writer with a passion for making technical concepts easy for anyone to understand. He’s been covering the world of gadgets, tech, and the internet for over 8 years, with a particular focus on TV and internet service providers. When he’s not writing, Dave can be found playing guitar or camping with his family and golden retriever, Rosie.

Contributing reviewers
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Reviewed by
Vilja JohnsonEditor-in-Chief

Vilja Johnson leads Switchful's editorial and creative teams. She has been editing content in the consumer tech space since 2016, and she has over a decade of experience teaching writing and editing. She's passionate about creating content that resonates with people and helps them solve real, day-to-day problems. In her free time, Vilja serves on the board of directors for the PrisonEd Foundation, where she runs a writing program for inmates in Utah prisons and jails.

Headshot of Bri Field
Reviewed by
Bri FieldAssigning Editor

Bri Field has a background in academia, research writing, and brand marketing. She has edited scientific publications, conference papers, digital content, and technical communications. As Assigning Editor, she enjoys ensuring all content is accurate, clear, and helpful. In her free time, you can find her in the kitchen trying a new recipe, out on a hike, or working through her massive TBR list.