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Turner’s plans for Champions League could be OTT

Among soccer fans, there has been much anticipation about how Turner Sports will broadcast the UEFA Champions League when they begin coverage in the late summer of 2018.

At the same time, there’s also been a lot of speculation about what channels Turner Sports will use to distribute the games to soccer fans throughout the United States. That speculation and analysis has included TruTV and Turner’s more popular and well-known properties.

However in conversations with two industry insiders, there’s speculation that Turner Sports may be considering broadcasting the UEFA Champions League via an online subscription service to viewers in the United States. The paid subscription offering would broadcast most of the English-language UEFA Champions League matches in the US, while the bigger clashes would be shown on television. Plus, as part of the service, all games would be available across desktop, mobile, tablet and over-the-top (OTT) devices such as Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast.

With the rights running from 2018 to 2021, and with TV networks working to transform themselves in an era of cord cutting, moving to a subscription service makes a lot of sense. The chief executive of one of the biggest US media companies has already admitted that OTT is the future for ESPN. So much so that BAMTech, which is part-owned by ESPN’s parent company Disney, reportedly bid $35 million per year to acquire the rights to the Champions League but were beaten by Turner Sports.

On each UEFA Champions League matchday during the Group Stage, there are four groups played on Tuesdays, while the other four groups play their matches on Wednesdays, with the two sets of groups (A–D, E–H) alternating between each matchday. With so many matches played, it’s impossible to show them all on television. How many of the games Turner Sports will decide to air on television versus how many will only be available via the OTT service will have to be determined, if that’s the strategy they’ll deploy. But nevertheless, for fans of clubs that are in the Champions League (beginning with the 2018/19 season), a subscription to an UEFA Champions League streaming service may be on the cards to ensure you don’t miss a single game.

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  1. Eddie

    May 23, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    i’m saying they should get more soccer and maybe to could get nfl rights like thursday or monday or sunday afternoon. i find out the webstie sports business and sporting and nbc that my answer

  2. Oliver Tse

    May 20, 2017 at 7:21 am

    This is the reason why a “digital” over-the-top ONLY strategy does NOT make any sense.

    Assume the following:

    – 20 million cord-cutters in the U.S.
    – 0.25% of cord-cutters would subscribe to an over-the-top UEFA club soccer video package.
    – package priced at $100 for the entire season

    20,000,000 x 0.0025 x $100 = $5 million

    Turner Sports can only recoup around $5 million via a “digital” over-the-top strategy, no matter what the experts say and no matter what Turner Sports COO Matthew Hong was saying to reporters in a breakout session at the Upfront this past Wednesday.

    • Oliver Tse

      June 2, 2017 at 11:27 am

      Q: Guess who is going to one giant money wrench at any digital “over the top” strategy that the likes of Matthew Hong may have on his drawing board:

      A: A total maniac by the name of Juan Carlos Rodriguez, the president of Univision Deportes (the operating division), which controls Univision Deportes Network,, and the Univision Deportes app.

      If I am reading Mr. Rodriguez correctly, then I expect Mr. Rodriguez to put EVERY UEFA match on and the Univision Deportes app and give them away for FREE, albeit with Spanish-language commentary.

      If that were the case, the Turner’s expected revenue from its planned digital over-the-top offering will be:


      No one is going to buy Turner’s digital over-the-top package, even if the matches all come with English-language commentary (presumably from Input Media World Feeds) if Univision Deportes were to give away every match for free on the Univision Deportes app or at

  3. eddie

    May 15, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Can you ask me Question about turner sports in the future because Oliver Tse just predict the future in media ?

    • eddie

      May 23, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Did you know that turner sports might bid NFL rights like Thursday night football or Monday or Sunday afternoon to bring back football for business since the last time they air is 1990 to 1997.

      • eddie

        May 23, 2017 at 10:56 am

        hey, oliver tse can you made a statement of turner sports will continue to bid on any sports. it said so on sporting news and nbc

  4. Harry

    May 11, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Whether or not a subscription service is a good idea or not will depend on what it will cost. If it’s too expensive not many will subscribe.

    Given the time slot of UCL games they can be shown on TBS and TNT, like FS1 and FS2 for Fox. During the 2-5pm slots all those channels show are reruns of TV shows that are over a year old.

    • Eddie

      May 13, 2017 at 10:35 am

      so you think that you want tnt/tbs/trutv to air uefa soccer in 2018 and that maybe that not gonna happen because Oliver ost want trutv and hln( first time live sports event of turner sports)

      • Eddie

        May 13, 2017 at 10:44 am

        It maybe a great idea to put trutv and hln because of the cost of subscribe.

    • Oliver Tse

      May 22, 2017 at 7:04 am

      More likely for Turner Sports to put UEFA club soccer on truTV and HLN than TBS and TNT for business reasons. Please read previous article:

      • Vsqz

        May 22, 2017 at 1:45 pm

        Send them hidden code in a wall of text like you did to NBC.

      • eddie

        May 22, 2017 at 2:35 pm

        will see how it goes for turner sports next year

  5. Ritchie

    May 11, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    A subscription would really be no different than what Fox did: you had to order Fox Soccer2Go in order to see all of the UCL group games.

  6. eddie

    May 11, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    what next turner sports ? Will they bid more sports media rights in the future ?

    • Eddie

      May 12, 2017 at 2:02 pm

      they could bid the media rights of sports in the future

    • Oliver Tse

      May 12, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) rights in the U.S. will be up for bid soon. The U.S. rights currently held by FOX (in English and Spanish) will expire in January 2019. Those UFC rights will go through the roof, as at least 4 bidders will likely be involved (including FOX and Turner.)

      World Series of Poker (WSOP) rights worldwide will also be up for bid soon (assuming that ESPN will not renew, as expected, as ESPN has lost money on the product every year since 2011..) The rights in the Americas (in English, Spanish, and Portuguese) held by ESPN, Inc. will expire in December 2018.

      Further down the line, one would expect FOX to give up the Big East Conference package (over 90% of the package is men’s college basketbll) after 2024, now that FOX has the Big Ten Conference “A” package (for 2017-2023, with the best American College Football game each Saturday including all Michigan vs Ohio State rivalry games) and FOX wants to keep the Big Ten Conference for as long as possible.

      • Eddie

        May 13, 2017 at 10:42 am

        How much turner sports will bid the media rights in the future to get strong like TNT/TBS/TRUTV/HLN(will join in the future) of turner sports group networks ?. Will they get more winning rights like football,boxing,golf,tennis,collage sports,hockey,basketball,baseball and other stuff like sports event ?. How much they continue to get stronger?

      • eddie

        May 15, 2017 at 2:35 pm

        TNT has NBA,NCAA tournament, and PGA championship
        TBS has MLB,NCAA tournament,Eleague,and NCAA Volleyball
        TRUTV has NCAA tournament,NCAA Volleyball,Boxing, and ( Uefa Champions league starting 2018)
        HLN will be first time live on Turner sports events starting 2018.
        What else they could get more rights to televise more sports ?

  7. Brendan Soraghan

    May 11, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Probable they will make available like Fox soccer to GO all of the games online . It’s $139 a year or 19.99 per Month . What they put on cable we will wait and see . .it will be us the consumers who will pay the price for what ever they decide

  8. Oliver Tse

    May 11, 2017 at 1:47 am

    Any OTT package will be a supplement to pay cable/satellite TV distribution, not a replacement.

    The only way Turner will be able to recoup $60 million/year in rights fee is to put the best matches on a relatively cheap channel so that Time Warner (and soon AT&T if the merger were approved) will be able to jack up the monthly subscriber fee.

    TNT and TBS are already too expensive because of NBA and MLB respectively.

    truTV is just about the only channel that makes any sense for Turner to put the best UEFA Champions League matches.

    In order to be able to raise subscriber fees for truTV by 6 cents per month, Turner will have to make the matches that show up on truTV English-language exclusive across all platforms, not just “pay cable/satellite exclusive.”

    If you want to cut the cord and watch pirate video feeds from the UK, the Middle East, or Asia, then what you do inside your house is your business.

    All Turner can do is to put together the best possible product with a tight budget in order to convince you to watch it without letting you switch over to Univision Deportes Network or to a pirated video feed. That means Turner needs to: 1) hire a fun, friendly, informative host who can connect with young men ages 12-34 (Turner already has one such candidate in house, as she currently anchors World Sport on CNN International,), 2) hire pundits who know how to explain tactics and human factors affecting performance in short sound bites, and 3) if budget were available, hire a commentary team to call the primary match each day from the stadium.

    Note that there will be two time slots each day for the UEFA Champions League starting September 2018: 1900 CET/1pm New York (2 matches during group state) and 2105 CET/3:05pm New York (6 matches during group stage.) That means Turner can put 4 out of 8 matches each day on linear channels, with best game in each time slot likely headed for truTV.

  9. Justo Hernandez

    May 10, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    Is Univision planning to do the same.?

    • Christopher Harris

      May 10, 2017 at 10:16 pm

      Probably not.

  10. NaBUru38

    May 10, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Rather than a standalone over-the-top subscription, it would be wiser to include it withccable/satellite services, as well as on mainstream services like Sling, DirecTV Now, PS Vue and FuboTV. Even in the on demand streaming era, bundling is important.

  11. Joe

    May 10, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    You will all be begging Fox to come back! Unless of course they get all British pundits then you’ll be….”having a wank” to the TV!

    • vsssqz

      May 10, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      Awwwe joe why are you so upset? Sad you won’t get to see Lalas as much on TV anymore? It will be okay. Lalas and Twellmann will always be around for you.

  12. The Auditor

    May 10, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Any broadcaster NOT thinking of OTT possibilities with their properties has their head in the sand at this point. It’ll be a very long time until those subscriptions surpass linear cable #s, but it’s impossible to ignore.

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