Now that the announcement has been made that the UEFA Champions League moves to CBS from Turner Sports, what does it mean for viewers in the United States, and how will their coverage be different than what we’ve been accustomed to in the past?
With so many questions and so much information to share, we’ve decided to put everything you need to know about the new US rights deal into one easy-to-read article that you can find below.
If for some reason there is a question you have that has not been answered in the article, let us know in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to get back to you.
Question (Q): So, the Champions League moves to CBS, huh? What does that mean exactly and when will their coverage begin?
Answer (A): CBS Sports have the exclusive English-language rights to broadcast the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup for the remainder of the 2019/20 season through until the end of the 2023/24 season. In total, it’ll be more than four full seasons of coverage. Their first official broadcast will be Friday, July 10 when they air the draw for the latter rounds of the Champions League and Europa League. Their first actual game coverage will be on Wednesday, August 5 for the Europa League Round of 16 second leg matches.
Q: Wait. I thought Turner Sports had the rights to the Champions League until May 2021?
A: They did. But Turner Sports decided in June 2020 to hand back the rights to UEFA. And UEFA then went ahead and contacted CBS to see if they would be interested. CBS Sports had signed a deal in the fall of 2019 to acquire the rights for 2021/22 through 2023/24. But with Turner Sports dropping out, CBS starts their UEFA club coverage one year earlier than anticipated.
Q: What experience does CBS Sports have with soccer?
A: CBS Sports currently has the rights to NWSL. Prior to that, CBS aired a limited number of NASL games a few seasons ago. But otherwise, CBS has very limited experience with soccer. But from what we’ve seen so far with NWSL, the first signs have been quite encouraging.
Q: So will all of the games be on television or will they be on streaming?
A: Here’s where it gets a little complicated. If you like streaming games, you can rest assured that every single Champions League and Europa League game will be available live and on-demand via CBS All Access, which is currently $6 per month or $59.99 for an annual subscription. Thankfully, CBS offers a 7-day free trial so you can kick the tires and see if CBS All Access is a good fit for you. (As an aside, CBS plans on changing the name of the CBS All Access service in the summer of 2020 to a different name. After all, CBS All Access includes a ton of original programming and on-demand content other than just soccer).
Also worth noting, CBS Sports Digital will stream select games and will feature highlights from each match across social channels and CBS Sports HQ, the 24/7 streaming sports news network.
Watch live coverage of every round, including every game of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League on CBS All Access. New to CBS All Access? Get your 7-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
In regards to television, it always seems to be more complicated because most broadcasters aren’t consistent with when and where they broadcast games.
Here’s what we know so far: CBS has announced that select marquee matches will air on the over-the-air CBS television network and CBS Sports Network. CBS describes the TV coverage as “featuring the most UEFA matches ever on U.S. broadcast television.” Since TNT wasn’t on broadcast television and previous rights-holder FOX Sports typically only showed the finals on over-the-air FOX, the bar is set pretty low for CBS to go ahead and beat that.
With the game coverage beginning in August 2020, CBS is promising that select games will appear on CBS Sports Network, which is a TV network available through select cable and TV providers as well as available via the fuboTV streaming platform.
We won’t know how many games and which games will be on TV until CBS releases their schedule in the next few weeks.
Q: What will the TV coverage be like?
A: We’ll have to wait to see what appears, but CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus promises “a first-class presentation serving both the passionate and casual soccer fans. Using a multi-platform approach across our broadcast, cable and digital assets, this partnership will leverage the power of ViacomCBS and CBS Sports to elevate and grow UEFA’s reach in the United States.”
One important note is that CBS Sports Network and CBS All Access will feature a live whip-around coverage of games during the knockout rounds similar to what TUDN did with Zona Futbol.
Q: Speaking of TUDN, what happens to the Spanish-language rights in the United States?
A: Univision/TUDN has the Spanish-language rights through the end of the 2023/24 season, so nothing is changing there. With CBS, Univision/TUDN is facing a much tougher opponent for TV ratings than what Turner Sports and B/R Live offered.
Q: What about replays of Champions League matches?
A: CBS Sports Network and CBS All Access will broadcast replays in primetime throughout the season, as well as archival matches on CBS Sports Network.
Q: Who will be the talent in the studio bringing Champions League games to fans on U.S. TV and streaming?
A: World Soccer Talk understands that conversations have taken place with potential studio hosts and other talent such as analysts but that no decisions have been reached yet.
READ MORE: History of UEFA Champions League on US TV
Q: Which streaming services include the CBS over-the-air channel and CBS Sports Network?
A: Both Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV and fuboTV include CBS and CBS Sports Network. Ideally, though, cord cutters would be more interested in CBS All Access, which guarantees access to every single UEFA club game (Champions League, Europa League and Conference League).
Q: What’s the UEFA Conference League?
A: Scheduled to begin with the 2020/21 season, the UEFA Conference League will serve as the bottom level of the existing UEFA Europa League competition.
Q: Will CBS use their own commentators?
A: At this stage, CBS Sports plan to use the world-feed commentaries from UEFA.
Q: How much did CBS pay for the rights to the UEFA Champions League?
A: According to industry sources, CBS and Univision are paying $140 million/year for the 2021-24 rights deal. A source to World Soccer Talk revealed that CBS is paying close to $90 million per season.
No word on how much CBS paid for the 2020/21 season.
When Turner Sports and Univision both had the rights to the Champions League, they were paying UEFA approximately $100 million per season.
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