UEFA international matches are coming to the ABC network on US television.
Remember earlier this year when ESPN announced they would broadcast a record 10 MLS games on ABC? The original plan was to cross-promote Euro 2020 games during network MLS broadcasts as well as scheduling doubleheaders including Minnesota-LAFC that would immediately follow the UEFA Euro 2020 Final.
With the global pandemic, that original game plan to celebrate MLS’s landmark 25th season was thrown out. Euro 2020 was rescheduled for the summer 2021, and MLS embarked on an innovative partnership with ESPN to broadcast the 2020 MLS Is Back tournament. With the vast majority of MLS Is Back games being scheduled in primetime on the flagship ESPN channel, none of the games appeared on ABC.
Now, World Soccer Talk has learned that the UEFA Nations League will be a major benefactor of ABC’s coverage. With the UEFA competition returning in early September, two of the high profile UEFA Nations League games will be televised live on the ABC network as part of a doubleheader on Saturday, September 5.
ABC’s doubleheader will feature Iceland against England kicking off at Noon ET followed by Portugal versus Croatia at 2:45PM ET.
The two matches will not only be important ties in League A of the competition, but they’ll also be the ideal showcase for ESPN to promote its coverage of the upcoming Bundesliga season (beginning September 18) and Serie A (beginning September 19).
Plus the two ABC matches will give ESPN talent an opportunity to start looking ahead to Euro 2020 that will be played next summer.
During the first international break of the 2020/21 season, ESPN has several key matches scheduled for television including:
All times Eastern. TV schedules are subject to change.
Thursday, September 3
Friday, September 4
Saturday, September 5
Sunday, September 6
Monday, September 7
Tuesday, September 8
Additional UEFA Nations League games are expected to be streamed via ESPN3 and ESPN+.
So far during 2020, UEFA has been feeling the love from US broadcasters. While CBS Sports acquired the rights to the UEFA club competitions and have been elevating the level of studio coverage as well as hiring two of the best commentators in the business, the baton has been passed to ESPN who have the English-language rights to the UEFA national team broadcasts such as Euro 2020, Euro qualifiers and UEFA Nations League.
With CBS giving ESPN some real competition in the race to see who is the best English-language soccer broadcaster in the United States, we’ll have to wait until September 5 to see if ESPN is able to rise to the challenge.
As reported earlier this year by World Soccer Talk, three of the names rumored to be in discussions with ESPN about joining the studio team for its coverage of Euro 2020 included Gary Neville, Gary Lineker and Sir Alex Ferguson. With the global pandemic disrupting plans for Euro 2020, it’s unclear who the talent will be for the 2021 tournament. But suffice to say, ESPN has major plans in store beginning with the September 5 double-header.
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