Seattle Sounders FC today announced its regional broadcast plans for the 2015 Major League Soccer season, with the club unveiling a robust array of regional programming and original content alongside its various partners. Following the strongest regional television ratings in club history that saw a 32-percent increase in year-over-year viewership - and the highest household ratings in MLS throughout 2014 - Sounders FC has extended its relationship with Q13 FOX (KCPQ-Channel 13) and JOEtv (KZJO-Channel 22) to continue as the regional television home of the Rave Green.
Highlights of the new multi-year agreement include a 30-minute pre-match show, a new and expanded 30-minute post-match wrap-up following each contest, two 30-minute Sounders FC specials during 2015 and a weekly segment during Friday's "Q It Up" sportscast throughout the season. Eight 2015 Sounders FC matches are being carried by Q13 FOX, with the remaining regional fixtures slated for JOEtv. Per club policy, additional terms of the deal are not being disclosed.
"We are proud to announce a renewed television partnership with Q13 and JOEtv for a second season. As a club, we were thrilled with the success of our local television broadcasts last year - the best in MLS - and have every intention of increasing those numbers in 2015," said Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer. "Additionally, we're excited to once again partner with ROOT SPORTS to allow fans across the Pacific Northwest to view Sounders FC matches."
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"Q13 FOX and JOEtv are thrilled once again to partner with Sounders FC," said Pam Pearson, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the stations. "We love being the local TV home for the league's most avid supporters to watch their champions in action."
Additionally, the club has reached a separate multi-year agreement with ROOT Sports to serve as the live out-of-market home of Sounders FC regional broadcasts, bringing the Rave Green to households throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. ROOT Sports is also set to re-air Sounders FC broadcasts regionally throughout Western Washington, with the network carrying a new biweekly Sounders FC magazine show that will provide fans with an advanced level of depth and access surrounding the club.
"Our partnership with the club began with the inaugural game in 2009. We are thrilled to continue bringing Sounders FC matches to their fans throughout the region," said Mark Jorgensen, ROOT SPORTS Senior Vice President and General Manager.
Bonneville Seattle Radio Group returns as the English radio home of Sounders FC, with KIRO Radio 97.3 FM set to carry all home and away matches throughout 2015. In addition to match broadcasts, KIRO is carrying pre and post-match shows surrounding all Sounders FC contests. Additionally, a 60-minute Sounders FC-focused show on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM will air at 9:00 p.m. PST every Thursday evening throughout the season during the Jason Rantz Show. On the Spanish-language side, 1490 AM ESPN Deportes Seattle Radio Group is set to carry all 2015 Sounders FC matches. Radio talent for these properties is being announced at a later date.
"Sounders FC is becoming one of those things that makes Seattle what it is, like mountains, water, coffee and jet airplanes," said Carl Gardner, Vice President and Market Manager, Bonneville Seattle Media Group. "KIRO Radio loves to offer the match broadcasts, because they are unlike anything else you'll hear on the radio. Scarves up!"
Added Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer, "Our relationship with the Bonneville Radio Group goes back to our inaugural 2009 season and we couldn't be happier to continue hearing Sounders FC soccer over their airwaves. The same can be said of our colleagues at 1490 AM ESPN Deportes Radio Group, as we look forward to working together for a second consecutive season."
Returning to the broadcast booth for a fourth consecutive season to call Sounders FC's regional matches is the duo of Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller. The Voice of Sounders FC, Fletcher serves as play-by-play commentator for the club's English-language simulcasts, bringing more than a decade of soccer broadcast experience to Sounders FC matches. Prior to his time in Seattle, Fletcher served as a football commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Sports Extra, covering the Barclays Premier League and English Football Championship, in addition to a seven-year run as the voice of Derby County for BBC Radio Derby.
Following a decorated 20-year playing career across the highest levels of European Football and three successful campaigns with Sounders FC from 2009-11, Keller reprises his role as Broadcast Analyst alongside Fletcher. Keller capped his playing career with the 2011 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award while also earning MLS Best XI honors, serving as Sounders FC captain and earning an All-Star selection in each of his three MLS seasons. From 1991 to 2008, the Olympia native played in Europe while accumulating U.S. Men's National Team goalkeeping records for most caps (102), wins (53) and shutouts (47). Keller played in three of the world's strongest topflight leagues throughout his career: England's Premiership, Spain's La Liga and the German Bundesliga.
Joining Fletcher and Keller on Sounders FC broadcast team is veteran reporter Jackie Montgomery, who enters her third full season covering the club. Montgomery will contribute commentary during pre and post-match coverage, in addition to hosting the halftime show. She is joined by a rotating panel of analysts during those segments, including former Sounder Taylor Graham and current Seattle University Head Coach Pete Fewing.
Additionally, recently retired Sounders Steve Zakuani and Marcus Hahnemann are joining the broadcast staff alongside Graham and Fewing as rotating analysts. Zakuani was Seattle's first overall selection in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, and he went on to record 17 goals and 17 assist in 97 appearances before retiring following the 2014 campaign. He set career highs with 10 goals and six assists in 2010, then was off to a hot start in 2011 before suffering a devastating double-leg break in an April match against the Colorado Rapids. Zakuani then endured a long road to recovery, finally making his way back to the lineup almost a year-and-a-half later. His journey back to the pitch is chronicled in his book, 500 Days, which was released earlier this week.
Hahnemann joins the Sounders FC broadcast crew after retiring last season following 21 years as a professional goalkeeper. He began and finished his illustrious career in his hometown of Seattle, spending three seasons with the A-League Sounders from 1994-96 and a little more than two seasons with Sounders FC from 2012-14. Prior to re-joining MLS, the Seattle native spent 13 years and made over 300 appearances in English football for Fulham, Reading, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton. He spent the majority of that time with Reading, where he became a mainstay for the Royals, making over 250 appearances from 2002-09 and helping the club gain promotion to the Premiership in 2005-06. Hahnemann also earned nine caps for the U.S. Men's National Team and was a member of the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup teams.
Sounders FC continues its 2015 preseason presented by adidas this week at Starfire Sports before traveling to Tucson, Arizona on Sunday, February 15 for a two-week camp. While in Tucson, the club is scheduled to compete in the 2015 Desert Diamond Cup. Seattle begins its 2015 MLS campaign on Sunday, March 8 at home against defending Eastern Conference champion New England Revolution at 6:30 p.m. PST on FOX Sports 1.