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Could ESPN Show Select Champions League Games As Result Of FOX-ESPN USMNT-MLS TV Deal?

fox espn Could ESPN Show Select Champions League Games As Result Of FOX ESPN USMNT MLS TV Deal?

One of the possibilities of FOX and ESPN’s expected acquisition of the joint TV rights to US Men’s National Team and MLS for 2015-2022 is that it could allow ESPN to offer show some UEFA Champions League matches on its network or online as part of its deal with FOX.

A source to World Soccer Talk revealed that FOX discussed the possibility of sub-licensing some UEFA Champions League games to ESPN. FOX owns the US media rights to the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and, beginning in 2015, the Bundesliga. The source said that as part of the discussions, ESPN discussed the possibility of picking up select games as part of its joint USMNT-MLS bid with FOX. The rights discussions are completely separate, and the discussions may result in no progress being made on the European soccer front, but it shines a light on the business relationship between FOX and ESPN — so cozy, in fact, that the two companies have been nicknamed FOSPN.

The close working relationship between FOX and ESPN, especially in the realm of soccer rights, is very interesting.

Consider that:

— FOX and ESPN made a joint bid to try to win the Premier League TV rights in 2012,

— FOX executives will be behind-the-scenes at ESPN’s World Cup coverage this summer in Brazil on a fact-finding mission to help prepare for the 2015 Women’s World Cup and 2018 World Cup,

— FOX acquired the US media rights to the 2016 UEFA European Championship qualifiers and 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers (involving European teams), and sub-licensed 50% of the games to ESPN.

— Lastly, ESPN signed a sub-license deal with FOX Sports last year to broadcast live UEFA Champions League games in Spanish on ESPN Deportes Radio.

In a competitive marketplace where rights fees for sports leagues and competitions continue to climb at astronomical rates, it makes sense for FOX and ESPN to team up together and strategize their efforts instead of trying to get into a bidding war against each other (and other media companies) where one of them ends up paying far more than what the rights deal is worth.

Together, ESPN and FOX are a formidable force with enormous resources. While both companies continue to work more closely together, it’ll be fascinating to see what their partnering means for soccer coverage in the future for soccer fans in the US.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

11 Responses to Could ESPN Show Select Champions League Games As Result Of FOX-ESPN USMNT-MLS TV Deal?

  1. R.O says:

    YES – please ESPN show some select CL games (on TV – NOT online) if the joint agreement with FOX goes through. That would be great. When ESPN had the rights to CL games, Derek Rae was excellent. For me the best!

  2. Tayo says:

    I would be surprised if this happens, well keeping my fingers crossed…

  3. Cantona says:

    If they do get some matches it will be curious how the broadcast will look like. Will they continue with off the tube commentary from ct or will they have Ian Darke broadcast from the stadium? It will be interesting how this plays out.

    Cantona—

  4. richard says:

    it will really improve the spanish transmissions, commentators from fox deportes are painfully bad. i Miss fernando Palomo

  5. john marzan says:

    “The rights discussions are completely separate, and the discussions may result in no progress being made on the European soccer front, but it shines a light on the business relationship between FOX and ESPN — so cozy, in fact, that the two companies have been nicknamed FOSPN.”

    at least when it comes to soccer, these two networks cooperate.

  6. Jim says:

    We can only hope.

  7. john marzan says:

    would also be nice to see Men in Blazers and Worldsoccertalk join forces.

  8. EPLNFL says:

    Seems that it is a match made in heaven. While ESPN never did a lot with the Champions League rights when they had it work at the broadcast level. Fox has never had the same quality if you ask me and no one has ever been happy with the studio show. So having both of them in on the CL and WC qualifiers seems good news for me and shows most importantly a commitment by ESPN to soccer.

  9. Soccer Rules says:

    I am not sure this is the best deal. In my opinion, ESPN does not promote soccer properly. Just compare what NBC and NBCSN have done with the Barclays Premier League coverage. It is the best I have ever seen on any network in the US. Last year I never knew when ESPN was going to show a BPL match. When it comes to soccer, the reality is that NBCSN > Be In Sports > Fox > ESPN.

  10. CTBlues says:

    FOX and ESPN keep working together on soccer so they have the extra cash to fight each other for other TV rights that are worth more in the US.

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