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Latest news about CBS and Univision’s Champions League rights

The questions about CBS acquiring the rights to the UEFA Champions League have been flying into World Soccer Talk all afternoon since the news broke. Instead of answering each question individually since many of you may have the same questions, we’ve compiled a list of questions and answers for you to peruse. We’ll update the article as soon as more details are finalized.

Q: What do we know about CBS and Univision acquiring the UEFA Champions League rights for 2021 to 2024?

A: CBS and Univision have acquired the rights to the UEFA Champions League for 2021 through 2024.

Q: Wait?! I thought Turner Sports and Univision had the English-language and Spanish-language rights?

A: The current rights holders to the UEFA Champions League are Turner Sports and Univision. It means that TNT will no longer broadcast the Champions League after the end of the 2020/21 season.

Q: What does this mean for Turner Sports, TNT and B/R Live?

A: Their romance with broadcasting the UEFA Champions League and Europa League will end when the 2020/21 seasons are completed. We understand that Turner Sports put in a bid to renew the UEFA Champions League rights, but they were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, B/R Live has started the process of merging the streaming platform into the Bleacher Report App, which will take two years to complete. By the time that transition will be complete, B/R Live will no longer have the rights to the Champions League.

As far as coverage of soccer news, Bleacher Report remains one of the top destinations for news and analysis of the sport.

Q: Which channels will CBS broadcast the UEFA Champions League on?

A: CBS will broadcast the UEFA Champions League across the CBS All-Access over-the-top streaming service as well as select games on the free-to-air CBS network.

Take a look at our brief demo of CBS All Access so you can see what it looks like.

Q: Is this good news for soccer fans?

A: When NBC Sports acquired the rights to the Premier League in 2012 for the 2013-16 seasons, there was a lot of conjecture about how well (or not) NBC would do at broadcasting the Prem. From 2012 to 2013, NBC Sports poured enormous amounts of time into researching the soccer industry (from fans to writers and blogs) to understand how best to broadcast the league. Since then, there’s been no turning back for NBC and they’ve transformed soccer coverage in the United States.

CBS comes at soccer from a greater disadvantage, having not covered the sport in much detail.

The advantage for soccer fans is that having a major sports broadcaster televising the tournament will increase the popularity of the sport in the United States. How well they cover the competition and how much they will make it accessible, we’ll have to wait and see. But CBS getting into the soccer business is good news for fans of the Beautiful Game. More competition for rights is especially good for UEFA because the rights fees will continue to increase.

Q: Is CBS likely to promote their talent from within the organization to cover soccer, or look externally?

A: In order to broadcast the world’s premier club soccer tournament, CBS and CBSSN will have to look externally to bring in quality talent to cover the Champions League.

Q: What will be CBS’s streaming strategy for the UEFA Champions League?

A: CBS has a streaming service called CBS All-Access, which is priced per month at $5.99 (with ads) and $9.99 (with no ads). All of the games will be available via the app.

Currently CBS All-Access offers more than 10,000 episodes of your favorite daytime, primetime and late night CBS shows as well as sports such as American football. CBS All-Access is best known for streaming Star Trek: Discovery and The Grammys.

As of February 2019, the CBS All-Access over-the-top streaming service has more than 4 million subscribers.

CBS All-Access offers a free 7-day trial.

Q: What experience does CBS have in broadcasting soccer, and why did it take them so long to get into acquiring rights to the sport in the United States?

A: Up until now, CBS has been a sleeping giant when it comes to covering soccer.

Historically, CBS was an early adopter of broadcasting soccer on U.S. television. CBS televised the 1974 World Cup, using the feed from the BBC. Also, CBS was a notable broadcaster from 1967 to 1976 when it televised the North American Soccer League (NASL).

After years of soccer coverage by the leading sports networks in the United States including NBC, ABC and FOX, CBS Sports was the only one of The Big Four to purposely avoid acquiring rights to the most popular sport in the world. And now it appears that finally CBS is back into soccer.

CBSSN did broadcast 12 NASL games during 2016.

Q: How much did CBS and Univision pay for the rights?

A: According to Sports Business Daily, sources estimate that CBS and Univision are paying an average annual value of $150 million combined for the rights to the competition (for 2021 through 2024).

A source to World Soccer Talk said that CBS Sports paid $110 million/year for the rights.

Q: When did the bidding process for the UEFA Champions League begin and end?

A: According to UEFA, media companies had until November 5, 2019 to submit their closed-envelope bids for the rights to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super Cup for the 2021-2024 seasons. An official announcement about CBS acquiring the rights isn’t expected for a week or two until all of the agreements have been finalized by the lawyers, and until the media announcement is completed.

Q: What about the rights to the Europa League, UEFA Super Cup and UEFA Europa Conference League?

A: The 2021-2024 rights to the UEFA Super Cup are included with in the package with the UEFA Champions League. CBS also acquired the rights to the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League for 2021-2024.

Q: Which streaming platforms have CBS and CBS Sports Network?

A: As of press time, the following streaming platforms have CBS: fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV and AT&T TV Now.

As for CBS All-Access, it’s a separate streaming service.

Q: In all of this news about CBS, what does the renewal mean for Univision?

A: Univision’s successful launch last season was the most-watched edition in the competition’s history on U.S. television, regardless of language, reaching nearly 22.2 million viewers. The fact that Univision was able to renew the UEFA Champions League rights is a big boost for the Spanish-language network.

While TNT improved their coverage, their biggest mistake was believing that many soccer fans would subscribe to their B/R Live streaming service to watch the games not televised. Univision was able to attract many of those consumers by offering coverage of games that was more widely accessible and, sometimes, for free via their over-the-air network.

Q: Why CBS, why now?

A: In an eyeopening revelation, UEFA’s media rights agency “pointed to a potential 2024 final in New York as a selling point in presentations to potential bidders for the three-year package.”

Imagine how massive that would be to have the 2024 UEFA Champions League final played in the United States and live on the over-the-air CBS network – just two years before the 2026 World Cup arrives in the United States.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Evan

    November 10, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    Having the Champions League Final outside of Europe seems stupid. I can understand maybe having glorified preseason competitions like the UEFA Super Cup or FA Community Shield over here, but otherwis, keep it in Europe.

  2. Brendan

    November 10, 2019 at 8:22 am

    I just hope they make a more professional approach to it than Turner Sports , if they match NBC approach a least half-way it will be a success

  3. cliff kobland

    November 9, 2019 at 9:43 am

    I am partly overjoyed. Getting it away from TNT is a great relief. Partly because l just wish it started NEXT week! rather than in 2021. I’m not concerned how CBS will cover the sport. This is one of America’s grandfather networks, They have the smarts and wherewithal to make it worthwhile experience. And there’s nothing to say they could not import the the TNT studio hosts, sans spastic Kate, with Holden, Howard, Edu & far and way my favorite (and not simply because we are both Tottenham fans), Steve Nash. You can just look at the experience of NBC, the nation’s other grandfather broadcaster and how they learned, and I would argue rather quickly, the provide what many of British mates tell me is a better game experience than they enjoy in the (in terms of the Premier League).

    • Me

      November 9, 2019 at 10:41 am

      What better game experience is that then? They all have the same set-up: people in studio talking about the game before, in the middle of, and after the game. The only difference between any coverage is WHO is doing the analysis. Sky have a far higher calibre roster of studio pundits but that’s understandable because they show the biggest games and they give regular exposure to former and current players without them having to travel too far from home. As much as I appreciate the fantastic job that NBC have done in promoting and delivering Premier League coverage, I don’t think US coverage can ever really compare to its domestic UK coverage. Much the same that Sky Sports’ coverage of the NFL or NBA isn’t anywhere near the same quality as you get from US broadcasters etc.

      • cliff kobland

        November 9, 2019 at 8:17 pm

        Of course not. Futbol is England’s game with an amazing following for all divisions. Americans, thru NBCSN, have, at most some 10 years experience with the game (you sound like you’ve been a follower much longer; perhaps you’re a native Brit). so both our coverage and the audience’s ;level of interest is like a 2nd grader while UK viewers and content providers are like in graduate school. So it’s simply not fair to compare the two. BTW, we are getting some more exposure by having access to some of these studio shows on NBC Gold as well as a daily 1 hour SKYSports show on NBCSN.

        • Azer

          November 10, 2019 at 2:53 pm

          The Peacock network have an analyst that never played in the Premier League. Kyle Martino never played in the EPL or any professional football, in any league yet he sits there and provides analyses for NBC Sports. How does that work? Brian McBride & Stuart Holden actually played in the Premier League and know what they’re talking about. Sky Sports News is on when millions of people are at work or in school. If something is happening at noon ET you’re out of luck. NBC needs to have Sky Sports News in the evening that wraps up the day in football with highlights and analyses. Why don’t they? Fox Sports had it in the past.

          • Evan

            November 10, 2019 at 4:30 pm

            I think NBCSN does air Sky Sports every now and then

  4. ToffeeFever

    November 9, 2019 at 5:08 am

    Very shocking considering the fact that CBS, for the past two decades, had not been very active in pursuing broadcast rights to additional sports properties including professional soccer, thus no one, not even those in the sports media world, saw this deal coming. With the impending ViacomCBS merger set to close by the end of the year, this move is an attempt to silence the critics and unlock more value from this merger as it possibly puts Viacom-owned properties like Paramount Network (which airs Bellator MMA) and even Pluto TV into play. ViacomCBS might also want to consider acquiring Univision to help the struggling Spanish broadcast network as it has recently lost a lot of ground to NBCUniversal-owned Telemundo, that now broadcasts Univision’s former properties in Copa America and the World Cup.

    The deal also means that with a new CBS regime in place in the post-Moonves era, it has given Sean McManus a lot more freedom to make the CBS Sports division more aggressive and competitive against the likes of Comcast, Fox and Disney heading into the brand-new 2020’s decade, which is why they’re giving CBS Sports Network, a channel known mostly for sports radio simulcasts and niche sports offerings, a desperately-needed boost and the possibility the net might be converted into a Nielsen-rated channel now that it is available on all the major internet TV channel subscription services like YouTube TV, Hulu TV and fuboTV.

    • Eddie

      November 11, 2019 at 9:00 am

      Univision will renew for long?

  5. Me

    November 9, 2019 at 2:28 am

    “Imagine how massive that would be to have the 2024 UEFA Champions League final played in the United States”

    And there lies a major problem with the governing bodies. Soccer fans in the UK are already charged huge amounts to attend the games, they’re charged a lot of money to access games on TV and if this plan goes ahead, they’ll be faced with a choice of taking a trip halfway around the world should their team make it to the final. This is after trekking across Europe throughout the rest of the competition. As much as I love soccer, it’s not fair on the paying supporters… all of whom are essential to the game as, without full stadiums, it’d be very unattractive for TV. The UCL final, much like the rest of the competition, should be played in Europe.

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