Why truTV may be Turner Sports’ ticket to UEFA Champions League success

However, a shift in programming priorities at FOX Sports, which held the U.S. English-language (and Spanish-language) video rights to the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League since August 2009, gave Turner Sports the opening to land a live sports TV product to bolster truTV.

Specifically, FOX Sports hired former NBC and ESPN production executive Jamie Horowitz to run FOX Sports’ English-language U.S. networks FS1 and FS2. Horowitz, who was credited with launching “manufactured debate” sports talk programs at the ESPN networks such as First Take and SportsNation, spent millions of dollars to hire sports talk talent away from competitors. High-profile talent hired by Horowitz include Colin Cowherd (who moved his show The Herd to air on FS1 on weekdays at 12 noon-3pm Eastern Time starting September 2015) and Doug Gottlieb (who has signed with FOX Sports to move his show from CBS Sports Network to FS1 on weekdays at 3pm-6 pm Eastern Time starting April 24, 2017.)

With FOX Sports having committed sizable programming and talent investments to build FS1 as a destination for sports talk and manufactured debate shows on weekday afternoons, this observer believes that the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League properties no longer make any sense for FOX Sports, from both a financial perspective and a programming perspective.

After all, why would FOX Sports want to spend another $50-60 million each year for the two UEFA club properties, which would conflict with both the Colin Cowherd and Doug Gottlieb shows and would force FS1 to preempt both shows 42 times each season?

With the knowledge that FOX Sports executives would NOT make a large bid for the U.S. English-language video rights to the two UEFA club properties, Turner Sports executives acted on the perfect opportunity to grab a live sports TV product with a young demographic that will allow Time Warner to raise monthly subscribe fee for truTV.

If Time Warner were able to raise the monthly subscriber fee for truTV by six cents each month, from $0.10 to $0.16, then Time Warner will be able to generate an additional $62.4 million in annual subscriber fee to pay for the U.S. English-language video rights to the UEFA club properties:

$0.06 /subscriber/month x 12 months/year x 86.8 million subscribers = $62.4 million/year

Readers should be able to convince themselves that Turner Sports will most likely put on truTV the best UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches in both the 1pm Eastern (new for the UEFA Champions League starting August 2018) and the 3pm Eastern time slots, namely those matches featuring billion-dollar starting lineups by the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, and big English Premier League clubs with proven audience drawing power in the U.S. such as Manchester United.

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