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.
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). It’s very possible that many (if not 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. However, the rights to the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League were sold separately for 2021-2024. As of press time, no announcement has been made regarding whether CBS and Univision acquired those rights too or not.
Q: Which streaming platforms have CBS and CBS Sports Network?
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.