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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