It’s confirmed. Fox Soccer Channel has acquired the rights to the UEFA Champions League on U.S. TV beginning with the 2009-2010 season, according to the Associated Press.
This confirms the news that EPL Talk reported on March 19 when ESPN, Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports bid on the TV rights while at the SportelAmerica Conference, the leading industry conference, held earlier this month in Miami Beach, Florida.
The announcement is a massive coup for Fox Soccer Channel. ESPN has held the rights to the UEFA Champions League since the 1994-1995 season. An ESPN official confirmed the news, according to the AP.
“We have been informed by UEFA that they are moving ahead with a new partner in the United States,” ESPN said in a statement Monday. “We made a strong bid that we believe would have helped continue the year-to-year growth of the UEFA Champions League in the United States.”
For those keeping score at home, it’s now Fox Sports 2, ESPN zero. Not only has ESPN lost the U.S. rights to the Champions League TV coverage, but it also recently lost the TV rights in Central and South America for the same competition to Fox Sports.
Regarding the news that ESPN has conceded defeat over the U.S. rights to Fox Soccer Channel, a representative for Fox Soccer Channel refused to comment as of press time.
An interesting development regarding the news, which is reported by SportsBusiness Daily, is the possibility of Fox spreading the Champions League games across Fox Soccer Channel (in 34 million homes), FX (in 95 million homes) or its regional sports networks (aka Fox Sports Net).
There also remains a strong possibility that Fox Soccer Channel will sub-license some of the Champions League rights to Setanta Sports, similar to how ESPN and Setanta share the rights currently.