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ESPN+ acquires FA Cup rights for U.S. market, source confirms

ESPN has acquired the US media rights to the FA Cup for the 2018/19 to 2020/21 seasons, a source confirmed to World Soccer Talk today.

As part of the rights deal, select FA Cup games will be streamed via the ESPN+ paid subscription service. The FA Cup rights were part of the deal that included the rights to Serie A, a story that we first reported in February after there was little interest in the FA Cup rights at the time.

All that changed on July 10 when Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus, thus spiking interest in the rights to Serie A and, by extension, the FA Cup.

In the end, ESPN paid approximately $55 million/year in a 3-year deal for the rights to broadcast Serie A and FA Cup as well as Eredivisie, Chinese Super League and A-League in the United States.

SEE MORE: Schedule of FA Cup games on US TV and streaming

The 2018–19 FA Cup will be the 138th edition of the oldest recognized football tournament in the world.

The third round of the FA Cup will commence on Friday, January 4.

In total, ESPN+ now streams the English Championship, Serie A, FA Cup, USL, League Cup, Chinese Super League, Eredivisie, A-League and out-of-market MLS games. ESPN+ also includes the daily ESPN FC soccer news and analysis show.

ESPN+ is $5.99/month.

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  1. Amrit Joshi

    August 14, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    I have a question. If ESPN decides to show some big FA cup games on ESPN or ESPN2, will they also be available to stream in ESPN +?

    • Ritchie

      August 15, 2018 at 12:56 am

      I doubt it. There’s a serie A game on espnews this weekend. Let’s see if it is in ESPN+ too.

      • CTBlues

        August 15, 2018 at 7:23 am

        All the Serie A matches on an ESPN Network station will not be on ESPN+.

  2. Brendan

    August 14, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    Will they have pre-view & review shows . And the draws for the rounds . Will it start from the first round in November . ?

  3. cm asia

    August 14, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Since ESPN wants viewers to have their broadcast channels at $7.00 per month, and ESPN+ at $5 per month, it would actually make financial sense to televise the FA Cup Final, and perhaps the semis, on either ESPN or ESPN2.

    • Ritchie

      August 14, 2018 at 5:38 pm

      Fox used to put the game on Fox television. ESPN will probably elevate the final to the main sports channel (though not all the way to ABC).

    • Yespage

      August 15, 2018 at 10:34 am

      No giving ESPN ideas. One platform only, PLEASE!

  4. Yespage

    August 14, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    Glad about the FA Cup coming to something I have, but will ESPN+ be doing a better job in the future with their commercials? Online services have this tendency of showing the same commercials over and over and over, and it is like Chinese water torture.

    • Shyvoodoo

      August 14, 2018 at 5:45 pm

      Why of all things… THIS! I watch mostly replays.. you can skip those if you wish.

  5. Aaron

    August 14, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    The deals to break up football into streaming packages are awesome. I have Roku with Hulu Live which includes ESPN, NBCSN and I have ESPN+,, B/R Tuner, BEIN a la carte and I get all the football there is and I pay $60 a month + Verizon Internet for $50 and I’m done… its much cheaper then DirecTV or Dish and above board, easy to watch anywhere I go.

  6. CTBlues

    August 14, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Do bars have access to ESPN+ or are they going to have the same issue that they had when NBC Sports Gold came out?

  7. Gabe

    August 14, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Just noticed that ESPN only have the TV games scheduled on their web site for Nations League. ESPN Plus matches not listed yet, suspect that maybe they’re sub-licensing some of these of these to Fox.

    • Rakesh

      August 15, 2018 at 11:12 am

      ESPN+ matches are listed. I see all serie A games already

  8. Joe

    August 13, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    I am so happy about this! i really did not want to buy Fox Soccer match pass. Not because i didnt like it but because i already bought ESPN+ and B/R Live along with NBC Gold. I realize its $$ but i like the convenience of watching what i want, when i want and i love the early rounds of the FA cup.

  9. Ben Voodoo

    August 13, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    Man this is good news. With all the soccer plus the CFL, its a good service. The HD feeds are clean and the ability to watch replays at anytime is well worth it for me. I dont mind soccer moving to online streaming as long as its affordable and easily accessably. ESPN+ is doing all those things but god I wish they would have gotten those Champions League rights though…

    • Peter305

      August 13, 2018 at 9:17 pm

      I share your wish on the Champions League but life isn’t perfect.

    • Francesco

      August 14, 2018 at 10:11 am

      At least there is Univision for Champions League. I would rather watch the games in Chinese than to know the score beforehand. Bleacher Report is a joke not worth $1 a month.

  10. Thyname

    August 13, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    This is great. First MLS Live, then Serie A, now FA Cup. I quickly purchased the $49.99 annual subscription

    • Ritchie

      August 14, 2018 at 10:45 am

      I won’t be watching ESPN plus during the summer, so getting an annual pass doesn’t save me any money right now. Of course, if the five dollars per month price goes up, that’s a different story.

  11. Yespage

    August 13, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    Man, never thought Stoke City relegating would have such a side benefit.

  12. Ivan

    August 13, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Less and less football is available on tv. Hate the trend, to be honest. Hate everything about it.

    • MDFootball

      August 13, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      Guess it all depends on context. I remember having to pay $15 to watch a single EPL match on Saturday and Sunday or having to order expensive hardware and foreign language packages to watch Serie A. There is access to more leagues and competitions. You can pick and choose content from a variety of service providers and hardware solutions to watch on better and better TVs that are getting less and less expensive. It takes a little getting used to but to me it’s a great trend…. more content, more choices and less expensive

  13. Peter305

    August 13, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    From the FA Cup website, here are the dates for the main rounds of the tournament this year.

    First Round Weekend of Saturday 10 November 2018
    Second Round Weekend of Saturday 1 December 2018
    Third Round Weekend of Saturday 5 January 2019
    Fourth Round Weekend of Saturday 26 January 2019
    Fifth Round Weekend of Saturday 16 February 2019
    Quarter Final Weekend of Saturday 16 March 2019
    Semi-Final Weekend of Saturday 6 April 2019
    The Final Saturday 18 May 2019

  14. Peter305

    August 13, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    The BBC did show some first and second round games the last couple of years and I think Fox did, although I don’t totally remember. If first and second round games are shown in the UK then I hope ESPN+ would pick them up as well.

  15. Peter305

    August 13, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    This is good news that the FA Cup has found a home!

  16. Bobby

    August 13, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    ESPN+ is awesome. The feed is clean and HD quality. $5/month I agree it will go up. While I also don’t like the fact much of US watchable soccer is online streaming it will help balance out the expensive contract the next go round. Just too expensive!!

    • Timm

      August 14, 2018 at 9:24 am

      This is an excellent point. I thought something similar last night as I was watching a Championship match from the weekend. The quality of ESPN+ has been brilliant. I hope ESPN recognizes to build the ESPN+ channel around football. Even if the price increases, I will stay with the channel as it has allowed to me to start having one place to watch matches from various leagues. The cost ($5 per month or only $50 when purchased annually) is minuscule compared to a monthly cable or satellite bill. In addition, not having to set DVRs anymore is equally brilliant. Miss a match — just come back to it at your next convenience.

  17. R.O

    August 13, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Unfortunately it seems more and more programing is going to online streaming and away from TV. I’ve never gotten into watching via streaming. Guessing the networks/channel see this as a way to control content and save on broadcast fees paid to cable/satellite and because of the increasing number of people who are cord-cutters.

    The thing is people who are cord-cutters still need to get high speed internet (usually via a cable provider) to watch streaming and many of those providers decrease speed of internet if a person goes beyond a certain usage. IMO, in the end channels/broadcasters will find a why to get $$$ to make up for more people streaming and cord-cutting. In the long run, it won’t be much cheaper than cable/satellite to watch shows and sports.

    • Tayo

      August 13, 2018 at 3:10 pm

      ESPN+ streaming is awesome but the one problem I have is that streaming is at least 2 mins behind. Imagine being on Twitter and watching a game, you probably have an idea what is going to happen next because you are behind.

      • Peter305

        August 13, 2018 at 3:53 pm

        >> Imagine being on Twitter and watching a game,

        You could always not look at Twitter…. 🙂

        • Tayo

          August 13, 2018 at 7:53 pm

          Hahaha true but hard to resist lol. Even if you avoid Twitter, there is always whatsapp and all that stuff

          • CTBlues

            August 14, 2018 at 12:52 pm

            Look at your phone during half time.

      • Dennis

        August 13, 2018 at 9:05 pm

        If your watching the game can’t you put down twitter.

  18. DN

    August 13, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    Are any games going to be on the regular ESPN channels?

    • Christopher Harris

      August 13, 2018 at 2:46 pm

      DN, there’s always a chance that ESPN could decide to put a game or two on TV. But it’s meant to buy an acquisition focused on generating subscribers to ESPN+

    • David the Yank

      August 13, 2018 at 3:30 pm

      My prediction is that FA Cup semifinals featuring big teams will be shown on ESPN, ESPN2, etc. Just can’t see them keeping (say) Chelsea v Man City FA Cup semifinal on ESPN+!

      • John G.

        August 13, 2018 at 4:40 pm

        I can see the FA semi-finals and final staying on ESPN+ all too easily. Disney sticks to what makes the most money even if it angers some viewers. For example, the disgraceful bias they developed toward major market baseball teams… keeping small market teams off the air and undiscussed on SportsCenter… destroyed their reputation among serious fans, who read independent Web sites and watch MLB Network. MLS occupies a similarly prominent role in Disney’s plans for soccer, so expect it to get an order of magnitude more coverage than its soccer deserves.

        Note that legal sports betting sites may well end up providing legitimate streams for the events in which they accept bets. Our major sports leagues already have deals like that with sports books in the UK and other European countries.

  19. Daniel

    August 13, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    What does “select” games mean? Fox used to brodcast every FA cup game that was brodcast over there and the ones the FA did for overseas broadcasts. Will we get those? Like by the time they get to the round of 16 all those games were avaliable. And most of the round of 32 if i remember correctlh.

    • Christopher Harris

      August 13, 2018 at 2:45 pm

      “Select” in that not every FA Cup game is broadcast. ESPN+ will broadcast those games that are available to them.

      • Daniel

        August 13, 2018 at 3:22 pm

        So…only the bbc and bt sport games. Not the extra matches that IMG used to do. Ok. Pirate stream it is then.

        • David the Yank

          August 13, 2018 at 3:38 pm

          Why would this be? I predict ESPN+ will show every game they are allowed to show that has an international feed set of announcers. If that worked for IMG & Fox, why would it not work for ESPN? Even if only 10,000 (PAYING!) subscribers want to watch Villa play Watford, then why not show it? I don’t see why they will reduce the number of games vs what we saw from Fox.

          • Christopher Harris

            August 13, 2018 at 3:55 pm

            Correct. ESPN+ will broadcast every game made available to them via IMG which will be more than what BBC and BT Sport provide.

            • Dan

              August 14, 2018 at 1:48 pm

              Yes, during the 3rd/4th rounds in recent years, IMG/Input has generally offered 1-2 games at 3:00 on Saturday to international broadcasters. FOX always carried them, and ESPN+ will no doubt stream them too.

  20. Francesco

    August 13, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Nice. All they have to do now is take away the La Liga rights from BeIn Sports and ESPN will become our one-stop-source for almost all our soccer needs. BeIn can keep the one-trick pony French league.

    • Eddie

      August 13, 2018 at 6:40 pm

      Will la Liga rights goes to ESPN in 2020?

    • Christian

      August 14, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      If that happens, then there is no reason to even have BeIn Sports. Serie A is gone and Ligue 1 will not be enough for me. I used to enjoy their Express Xtra show, but lately with the American former coach hyper guy as a regular feature… it’s pretty much unwatchable. Much prefer the Spanish version though.

  21. SaintsFan

    August 13, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    ESPN+ has definitely hoovered up a lot of watchable soccer (and other sports).
    How long with it stay at only $4,99 a month though? That is the question…

    • Ritchie

      August 13, 2018 at 10:58 pm

      According to an article I saw, people pay $7 per home for ESPN. Now, I’m not sure if they front load the fees to get distributors to buy ESPN2 ($1) and the other networks, but if ESPN is truly $7 a month, ESPN+ can stay right the hell where it is.

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