The remaining bidders have been silent. It’s purely conjecture, but I wouldn’t be surprised if FOX and ESPN make a joint bid to try to win the UEFA Champions League rights, similar to what they did for the Premier League TV rights (but ultimately were outbid by NBC Sports Group). The relationship between FOX and ESPN, nicknamed FOSPN by some, is so cozy that ESPN has invited FOX executives to join them in Rio next summer to see how ESPN handles its production. FOX has the rights to World Cup tournaments 2018 and 2022, while FOX and ESPN will share the US media rights to the Euro 2016 qualifying games.
In another example of how FOX and ESPN have been working closely together as of late, ESPN signed a sub-license deal with FOX Sports last week to broadcast live UEFA Champions League games in Spanish on ESPN Deportes Radio.
Other than FOX (who has held the UCL rights since 2009), ESPN (which had the UCL rights from 1994 to 2008), beIN SPORT and NBC, there’s always the possibility of surprise bidders, much like how Universal/NBC came out of practically nowhere to scoop up the Premier League rights.
Whichever media giants are involved in the bidding, you can guarantee that executives at those companies will be rushing around today to put the finishing touches on their presentations and bids before the final deadline of Noon ET on Tuesday, December 3. Then it’s up to UEFA to review the proposals and bids, and then to select a winner.
As a soccer fan, which network would you like to see broadcasting the UEFA Champions League and Europa League games between 2015-18? And, your personal preferences aside, which of the networks do you think will win the rights?