D.C. United reaches 3-year deal with CSN

D.C. United has reached a long-awaited — and long-term — agreement with Comcast SportsNet, but coverage will not begin until May 8 and no matches are currently on the outlet’s schedule after Sept. 15.

The three-year deal calls for at least 16 matches annually. Every other U.S.-based MLS club, except Chivas USA, will have 21 or more games on local channels this season.

In addition to CSN’s coverage, United will appear on NBC, NBC Sports Network or ESPN2 nine times this year. However, that leaves as many as nine other matches — more than one-quarter of the 34-game slate — without standard TV coverage. Of those nine, five are road games, including this Friday night against Sporting Kansas City.

United might add TV for some games late in the year, depending on CSN’s interest and how the team is faring. However, as things stand at the moment, five of the last 10 regular season matches will not be televised.

The next two games — Friday at K.C. and April 13 against New York at RFK Stadium — will be available in the Washington area on the league’s pay packages only (Direct Kick and MLS Live). Because the games are not on TV here, the league’s blackout rules are lifted. Viewing parties are scheduled at restaurants/bars, as well.

ESPN2 will carry the April 21 home game against Philadelphia, but the Columbus trip six days later is not on the local TV schedule.

CSN will then show 14 consecutive matches between May 8 and Aug. 3.

The outlet will not pay a rights fee — it hasn’t in several years — but will cover production costs. The team and channel split expenses the past few seasons.

Dave Johnson and John Harkes will return to the broadcast booth but won’t travel and will have to call away games from the CSN studio in Bethesda, Md.

United aimed to tie supplementary programming (a coach’s show and behind-the-scenes specials, for instance) to the new broadcast contract, but aside from periodic pregame and postgame shows, those plans apparently did not come to immediate fruition. However, concepts for original programming are in development.

The remaining schedule:

April 5 at Kansas City no standard TV

April 13 New York no standard TV

April 21 Philadelphia ESPN2

April 27 at Columbus no standard TV

May 8 Houston Comcast SportsNet

May 11 at Dallas CSN

May 19 Kansas City CSN, UniMas

May 25 Portland CSN, Univision Deportes

June 2 at Chicago CSN, UniMas

June 8 at New England CSN, Univision Deportes

June 15 Toronto CSN

June 22 San Jose CSN

June 29 Vancouver CSN

July 3 at Seattle CSN

July 7 at Colorado CSN

July 20 at Chicago CSN

July 27 New England CSN

Aug. 3 Montreal CSN

Aug. 10 at Philadelphia NBC Sports Network

Aug. 17 at Montreal CSN

Aug. 24 Toronto no standard TV

Aug. 31 at New York NBC Sports Network

Sept. 8 at Chivas USA no standard TV

Sept. 15 Los Angeles CSN, UniMas

Sept. 21 at New England no standard TV

Sept. 28 at Toronto no standard TV

Oct. 4 Chicago NBC Sports Network

Oct. 12 Philadelphia no standard TV

Oct. 18 at Kansas City NBC Sports Network

Oct. 27 Houston NBC

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · April 4, 2013