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Paramount+ trying to acquire more soccer rights, CBS exec says

CBS All Access, which has been streaming all of the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and NWSL games since 2020, will be renamed to Paramount+ on March 4. Expectations are growing that executives are interested in acquiring more soccer rights for Paramount+ so it can compete against ESPN+, Peacock TV and other streaming services.

“It’s no mystery that we’re interested in expanding our portfolio,” Executive Vice President and General Manager at CBS Sports Digital Jeffrey Gerttula told World Soccer Talk. “We certainly love the soccer space, and we’re looking in a lot of places, but we have to find the right partners.

“Soccer is important to us. We love the audience. [They’re] passionate and youthful. We’ve already seen the power of it with the Champions League audience. It’s a core piece of Paramount+.”

A source with knowledge of the situation revealed to World Soccer Talk that CBS Sports have been trying to acquire the rights to Serie A for the 2021/22 through 2023/24 seasons. With the soccer streaming wars between ESPN+, Peacock, fuboTV, Paramount+ and others heating up, acquiring rights to the top leagues is seen as an attractive way to capture a loyal subscriber base that has a younger audience than most traditional American sports.

ESPN+ currently has the Serie A rights, but they expire at the close of this 2020/21 season. ESPN+ is trying to renew them but faces tough competition from Paramount+, according to a World Soccer Talk source. The bidding process is currently underway, with a decision expected to be reached within the coming weeks.

“Our skill set [at Paramount+] is live sports,” Gerttula explained. “A lot of the competitors — not all of them, but most of them — [have] live sports as a key piece of the portfolio. Not only [do we have] UEFA Champions League, but all of our ‘blue chip’ rights around [American] football, golf, and college basketball are all in there [on Paramount+]. We already have a huge sports audience within CBS All Access, and that audience will be in Paramount+. And that’s why soccer is such an interesting fit for us. It continues to build off that live sports interest.”

If Paramount+ is able to add to its soccer coverage with rights to more leagues, the streaming service would be a formidable juggernaut in the industry. ESPN+ focuses exclusively on sports. Peacock TV has one soccer league (the English Premier League) as well as sporadic coverage of the Women’s Super League. No other streaming service has the wealth of offerings that Paramount+ has when it comes to live soccer and original news plus entertainment.

In addition to live sports, Paramount+ will include Paramount+ Originals (such as The Stand and Star Trek), Comedy Central, MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Smithsonian Channel, more than 10,000 episodes of CBS content plus hundreds of movies from Paramount Pictures. Additionally, CBS All Access/Paramount+ has live access to local CBS channels, CBSN (24/7 news), CBS Sports HQ and ET Live.

“There’s a lot of great competitors out there, but we feel that [Paramount+] is just as good,” added Gerttula.

Consumers can sign up for a free 7-day trial to CBS All Access now before it’s renamed and relaunched as Paramount+. As of press time, CBS All Access is offering a 50% discount when you get the annual plan.


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  1. KL

    February 24, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    I also hope they put games on CBS and CBSSN.

  2. KL

    February 24, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    Umm…wow! This is certainly interesting. That’s another hit at beIN Sport’s tv rights. I was thinking about getting Fanatiz but this may change my mind, especially with the March International window coming up and the UCL & UEL knockout rounds ongoing. I only wish they had Copa Libertadores.
    Now CBS will have:
    -UEFA Champions League
    -UEFA Europa League
    -UEFA Europa Conference League
    -CONCACAF Nations League
    -CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers (Not US Home)
    -CONCACAF Womens Nations League
    -CONCACAF Womens World Cup Qualifiers (Not US Home)
    -Argentine League
    -Brasil League
    That’s quite a lengthy list and that’s a huge hit at Fanatiz considering they were just showcasing AFA Play. Hopefully the price doesn’t change much.
    Now, in english, Fanatiz will only have:
    -Ligue Un
    -La Liga
    -Copa Libertadores
    -World Cup Qualifiers
    -And a few niche leagues/competitions.

  3. Edward

    February 24, 2021 at 6:11 pm

    oops, should have posted here:

    Tannewald buried the lede: “Paramount+ is set to become the new English-language home of the men’s club leagues in Argentina and Brazil.”

  4. Ensar Dervisevic

    February 23, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    Is ESPN actually getting La Liga and the Premier League?

  5. JP

    February 23, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    The commentary for Atleti/Chelsea on CBSSN seems to be a bit out of sync with the action.

  6. David K.

    February 20, 2021 at 7:04 am

    I completely agree with Bill. Streaming is a huge plus for soccer fans. ESPN+ at $50 annually with few to no advertisements is a great deal. The number of leagues available plus quality commentary in the form of ESPNFC is astounding at that price. The other services like Peacock, Fanatiz, and CBSAA are relatively inexpensive as they all are less than $100 per year to get soccer. The days of bloated cable packages where there are dozens of channels one never watches but has to pay for are coming to an end.

  7. disco george

    February 19, 2021 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks, Turfit — I knew I’d forget about a few!

  8. Turfit

    February 19, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    @disco george, beIN Sports Extra is over the air with La Liga, Ligue 1 and others.

  9. disco george

    February 19, 2021 at 3:55 pm

    NBC: Premier League (usually one match per week)
    Fox: MLS, USMNT/USWNT, FIFA World Cups (mens and womens)
    ABC: Euros, MLS
    CBS: Champions League, NWSL
    Univision: Champions League, Liga MX
    Telemundo: Chivas matches, some Premier League

    I’m probably missing a few (can’t recall Azteca America’s current offerings, for example), but that’s not, like, nothing.

  10. Bill

    February 19, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    Really tired of the constant “over the air” VS paywall complaints. Who actually watches soccer “over the air”. “over the air” means a TV antenna on your roof and you watch ABC NBC CBS PBS and UHF channels or the HD version with the sub channels. What soccer do those channels offer?

    If you are paying for cable and get 200 channels this is not “over the air”.
    You are paying for the service. If you are commenting on this website that means YOU HAVE THE INTERNET so just spend $5-$15 a month and watch all the incredible live soccer from all over the world that we can see here in the states every day.

    Dont list everything and say oh nooooo it will cost to much to get everything. I make less that $60,000 a year, I live pay check to pay check. usually $25-30 a week to eat off of and I stream everything I want and my son wants to since I can add him to it all. There is more live soccer 24/7 right now than any of us here can possibly watch.

    ENJOY the wonderful place we are in as world soccer fans right now!!!!
    Thanks Chris for the website and the podcast. Get the Swans up this year, need a team from Wales back in the EPL!!!

  11. Michael

    February 19, 2021 at 9:46 am

    Thank you.

  12. KL

    February 18, 2021 at 10:59 pm

    You can find Bundesliga radio coverage on the Amazon Alexa app. Just ask “Alexa, play the Bundesliga.”

  13. Michael

    February 18, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    I agree. In the free trial of CBS All Access, I saw that it still has a lot of work to go before it is mature. After the 7 day trial I let it go and went back to watching UEFA Champion’s League & Euorpa on TUDN, UniMass, Univision, and Galavision. Also their version or the wrap around on ZonaFutbol is really good as well. I know enough Spanish to understand most of the commentary….but that is a small price to pay for a quality viewing. Does anyone know who has the US Radio Rights to UEFA, La Liga, or Bundesliga? I can find the the EPL on TalkSport…but I don’t really follow anyone in the EPL except for Arsenal. I am at work during most of the matches and would love to be able to listen to the matches live, instead of having to wait to get home and watch the match of DVR.

  14. rej4sl

    February 18, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    Can’t even stream the Manchester United game today

  15. Eric T

    February 17, 2021 at 2:23 pm

    I wonder how Paramount would treat/deliver Serie A. I enjoy their Champions League and UEFA League coverage but would they put the same effort towards Serie A?

  16. JP

    February 17, 2021 at 9:46 am

    @Michael F, yes that mimics my experience with CBSAA last summer. The picture isn’t terrible like standard definition, but noticeably below the quality of the matches if on CBSSN or TUDN. ESPN+ has the same or even better quality than my cable.

    That was the main reason I didn’t end up buying CBSAA, along with the lack of DVR like controls which ESPN+ has. It also always froze up after HT forcing me to exit the match and reload, generally annoying. I’ll stick to watching the matches in Spanish and wait to see if things improve with Paramount+. just in case they do get Serie A.

  17. Edward

    February 16, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    @Christopher Harris: I think MAHLUF is complaining how you guys haven’t spoken about the rest of Peacock’s content in the same manner as CBSAA. The last time you did it was in the summer at its launch and before Peacock really started adding to its content library

    in the same vein, Peacock really needs to pick up Tim Horton’s Brier. I hope they win the rights from ESPN. Curling Night in America was so terribly done. Bring back Jason Knapp and Andrew Catalon.

  18. Michael F

    February 16, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    @JP Stream quality did improve for both matches in the 2nd half. Not as clean to me as ESPN+ or Peacock but better than it was earlier.

  19. JP

    February 16, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    @Michael F, agree on the CBS All Access stream quality. Noticed the same here last summer during my free trial. Not an issue with my connection as ESPN+ most often crisp.
    Hoping they upgrade the picture quality as part of the Paramount+ rebrand, and include pause/FF/RW functions on live events.
    TBD on all that.

  20. Michael F

    February 16, 2021 at 3:52 pm

    If the stream quality is going to be like this, I certainly give a thumbs down on Paramount+ acquiring additional soccer rights.

  21. Michael F

    February 16, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    I will post this here too. For all the complaints we’ve heard over Peacock’s interface etc, i have to now chime in regarding the stream quality of CBS All Access.
    It is NOT impressive at all. It is not a clean 720p much less 1080p and is blurred with camera movements. I found the CBS Sports network channel feed off YouTube TV live stream to be totally superior in quality.
    Surely CBS All Access can do better than this.

  22. Nosferatu

    February 16, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    @Chris Guardiano, I feel like CBS All Access/Paramount+ getting rights to more leagues would go completely against the idea of “growing the game” in the U.S. Shunting these games off TV and to a fairly obscure streaming platform means that basically it’s only the hard-core viewers who pay for the service are going to be seeing the games. One could possibly argue that ESPN+ has crossover or more mainstream appeal, especially with the combo packages with Disney+ and Hulu, but I just don’t see that with CBS/Paramount.

  23. MAHLUF

    February 16, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    This CBS/Paramount+ love affair is so ridiculous. You’d swear the CBS execs were paying this website to promote their properties.

    Despite the constant begrudging of over 95% of the people who frequent this website, Peacock has just as much – if not more – content than Paramount+…but nooooooo mention of that streaming service being a possible “formidable juggernaut’.

    • Christopher Harris

      February 16, 2021 at 2:25 pm

      What soccer rights does Peacock have other than the Premier League and select WSL games?

  24. Turfit

    February 16, 2021 at 11:31 am

    Until Qatar’s world cup is over, beIN will not be selling or calling it quits.

  25. JP

    February 16, 2021 at 9:32 am

    @Jasinho, I’ve wondered about beIN deciding to call it quits and selling their properties/channel to someone else too. Like you said, CBS getting Serie A and then adding beIN’s rights would be a home run! Serie A, La Liga, UCL. EL, Libertadores, League 1, all in one spot.
    If they would somehow get the NHL next season (no clue if they’re even in the discussion), would have all the leagues I need in one location. Not going to happen, but nice to dream about.

  26. Hans

    February 16, 2021 at 3:14 am

    Put all the different Soccer Leagues on streaming services because paying for advertisement supported TV is a big scam. Don’t pay for the scam pay for the streaming services. So for me, bring it on Paramount+ and ESPN+ and let the rest fight over EPL rights.

  27. Chris Guardiano

    February 15, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    In my view, if Paramount+/CBS really wants to help grow the game in this country, then they need to go after the MLS and the US National team rights currently held by Fox. I mean they already have the NWSL, why not help the women’s game further by getting the rights to the USWNT. The same can be said for the USMNT especially if those games are put on network TV. When it comes to MLS, CBS could help the league by being a better TV partner than Fox currently is because by 2023 when the new MLS TV deal begins, it is possible that CBS might have more open spots on weekends especially Saturdays to show games on network TV since the SEC is leaving CBS at the end of this upcoming college football season (although CBS is in the running for the Pac-12 rights). CBS could also help the league by providing it with a second streaming partner in the form of Paramount+.
    The reason why I say CBS should go after the Fox portion of these contracts is because ESPN is unlikely to give up being a TV partner for both MLS and the US National Teams. This is because ESPN was a founding partner in the creation of MLS back in 1996 and they have been a partner of US Soccer since the mid 80’s. In fact US Soccer did a lot in terms of growing ESPN back then by providing it with national team matches and this partnership eventually helped US Soccer get the winning bid to host the 1994 World Cup because FIFA saw the potential of ESPN and cable in general in terms of growing the audience for the World Cup.

  28. Chris Guardiano

    February 15, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    @Steve even MLS is at risk of being taken off TV especially if the league gets their wish in the next TV deal in which all games that are currently on local over the air stations and RSN’s are put behind a streaming paywall like ESPN+ meaning fans will need at least an ESPN+ subscription to watch their team play. Currently its only out of market MLS games that are on ESPN+. Also if the league decides that Fox isn’t a good TV partner and goes with CBS or back to NBC (like they did from 2012-2014) then fans will also need a Peacock or Paramount+ subscription. Only rivalry games (ex: Seattle vs Portland, the LA derby etc), the All Star game, the playoffs and MLS Cup will be on TV if this happens. Lastly this also affects the rights of the USMNT and USWNT meaning their games will be moved to streaming as well since the national team and MLS are linked together.

  29. Jasinho

    February 15, 2021 at 5:57 pm

    I think the wild card is going to be beIN Sports USA. Would CBS or ESPN make a move to buy out the channel and the rights currently held by them? If CBS is looking to make an impact for P+, buying out beIN would be a heck of a start between La Liga, the Copa Libertadores and even Ligue 1 as opposed to *just having* Serie A.

    By the way, I wonder why CONCACAF revamped their champions league format that won’t take effect until 2023? Is it because their current TV deal with FOX expires after the ’23 Gold cup and looking for a better distribution deal? It would be sweet if CBS got it and put it on P+.

  30. Steve

    February 15, 2021 at 2:48 pm

    Less soccer is going to be broadcast over the air which is bad for fans and the game. It’s all moving toward behind streaming paywalls. MLS will probably be the only soccer league broadcast over the air which makes sense since it is the domestic league and it is slotted for the American time zone. That and Liga MX which will probalby merge with MLS some time in the future.

  31. Rich

    February 15, 2021 at 1:21 pm

    So let’s see who has a chair when the music stops…

    ESPN (hypothetically) let’s P+ have Serie A and gets La Liga to go along with EFL, FA Cup and Bunde.
    P+ would have Serie A and UCL/UEA.

    Does that mean that NBC is going to get EPL rights, unopposed?

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