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

As for the secondary matches in each time slot, this observer believes that Turner Sports will put those matches on HLN, the channel formerly known as Headline News. Ever since re-branding Headline News into HLN in 2014 to target the “social media generation”, Turner Broadcasting has tried several programming initiatives, one of which was to put live sports programming on HLN for the first time in 2016 when Turner Sports used HLN to provide “overflow” coverage of NBA playoff games to HLN when the first game of a scheduled doubleheader on TNT ran over its allotted time.

While some readers of this article may be disappointed that Turner Sports is NOT likely, in my opinion, to use either TNT or TBS for UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League coverage, readers should be able to understand why Turner Sports would rather put the UEFA club properties on truTV and HLN. The reasons are similar to the reasons why ESPN put the UEFA Champions League on ESPN2 instead of ESPN in 1994-2005, and why FOX Sports moved the best UEFA Champions League matches from the FOX Sports regional networks and FX to FOX Soccer Channel shortly after FOX Sports started coverage of the UEFA Champions League in 2008.

As for the production aspects, because Turner Sports already has experience running NBA TV (under contract with the NBA) on a tight budget by taking the commentary feeds from various regional sports networks instead of sending its own talent to live NBA games airing on NBA TV, one would expect Turner Sports to follow that model with the UEFA club properties by using the world feeds produced by the production company under contract with UEFA. FOX Sports has been using those world feeds from London-based Input Media for the UEFA Champions League since August 2015 (after Sky Sports lost the rights in the U.K.).

One of the strengths of Turner Sports has always been its studio shows. Specifically, the studio shows for NBA on TNT with Emmy Award-winning host Ernie Johnson, Jr. and an A-List cast of rotating studio analysts such as Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal, are widely perceived to be the gold standard for studio shows on U.S. sports television.

One would expect Turner Sports to devote significant resources to build its studio show for the UEFA Champions League property. Many English-speaking candidates with experience playing in the UEFA Champions League now live in the U.S. are available for Turner Sports to select as pundits.

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