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European Leagues TV Coverage – 2021/22 Preview

In the NEW episode, number 230, Christopher Harris and co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer cover a range of topics including:

• Dealing with the shockwave of Messi to PSG and what it means for ESPN and beIN SPORTS
• We give you all of the news about the exciting return of the European leagues
• Latest news about CBS and ESPN’s big plans for Serie A & LaLiga
• Why the pendulum of transfer signings has swung to the Premier League
• TV coverage plans from NBC/Premier League as well as ESPN/Bundesliga.

Listen to the show via the player above or via this link.

Launched in 2006, the World Soccer Talk Podcast is the longest running podcast on the planet. Every week, we share the latest news about watching soccer on television and streaming, in addition to discussing what we like and dislike, and featuring your questions and feedback in our Listener Mailbag segment.

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34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. locofooty

    August 19, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    @Edwin ESPN is promoting a soccer property that they just acquired. That makes sense. They have the bandwidth, the journalists on payroll to do it. I’m sure they hope it becomes “wildly popular”, but highly unlikely and they know that. They are trying to do as much as they can and show a good product within the streaming business. Trying to copycat NBC/EPL strategy was never it. There is no way to get the same popularity due to the comparison between both leagues and the way they are broadcasted. It’s not even close because ESPN was never going to commit to airing matches on its networks for all available windows. It was never going to offer a more balanced output between both. It wasn’t with Serie A, it’s not with Bundesliga and it won’t be with La Liga. ESPN is not going for that. It simply was never the strategy. They are not trying to mimic NBC. As it’s been commented here, this is more than just La Liga on ESPN.

  2. Edwin

    August 19, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    @Karl great reply and I see where you’re going I just after watching a ton of what works and doesn’t work with soccer properties think they could do it different/better. But those are some good points brother.

  3. Edwin

    August 19, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    @locofooty What I meant when I said they are trying to copycat NBC’s EPL strategy is this.
    Grab a big Euro league create a clever marketing campaign and hope it takes off and become wildly popular. Obviously the strategy isn’t completed hence me calling it a “half hearted attempt”

    The strategy won’t work unless ESPN commits to airing ALOT of games on OTA and ESPN/ESPN2. But YES they are trying to mimic EPL on NBC strategy. They’ve done the same thing with first Serie A and Ronaldo where there was a bunch of media push and commercials with partners I’m sure you remembered seeing those Verizon Commercials with the family members each talking about what they liked about Verizon and the Disney Bundle where there was something for anyone. With the Bundesliga they decided to change the approach and put some games on OTA they added the Sports Center treatment with the Gio Reyna feature,

    Now the recent La Liga promo push. Each time they fail because neither of these league they acquire have enough fans in the US to take off like EPL did on NBC and lastly ESPN is committed to giving enough long term effort with the OTA and cable coverage to cultivate enough of a fanbase to grow larger. Its just a quick look at our new shiny toy we locked up to a learn term deal and paid a bunch of money for. After a 1 yr or 2 they lose interest as the toy isn’t what they thought it would be. This has happened twice already with Serie A and Bundesliga. La Liga could work but not it 98% of games are going to be on ESPN+

  4. Karl

    August 19, 2021 at 11:28 am

    @Edwin I respectfully point out that I think you’re looking at ESPN+ incorrectly. Apologies for the imperfect analogy that completely disregards the cable networks but from the perspective of Disney’s Direct-to-consumer strategy, think of ESPN+ like milk at the grocery store. If you only come into the store and buy milk and nothing else, the grocery store doesn’t make a lot of money and in fact might even lose money if the milk is sold cheaper than cost. However, almost all customers buy other stuff that is high-margin (Disney+, Hulu/Star). The Disney grocery store is trying to have the best milk in town (ESPN+) at a low price (and increasingly the only place you can find certain kinds of milk) but you only get the low price if you also have Disney+ and Hulu, which are the real moneymakers. In this scenario, does the customer care if the milk is used as a loss leader? FWIW, Disney was expecting ESPN+ profitability for the FY ending September 2023 at their December 2020 investor day (a time when ESPN+ had 11.5M subscribers and provided guidance of 20M-30M subs by September 2024). I’d be absolutely shocked if they don’t hit that early as Disney consistently gives themselves easy targets.

    As for the impact on ESPN and other soccer leagues, I think you’re seeing ESPN clearly betting on La Liga and Bundesliga long-term, and I think there’s a strong chance they renew with MLS but it really depends on what MLS wants. There’s only one (English TV) partner that can offer the full breadth of OTA broadcast, #1 cable sports net, #1 sports streaming service, and bringing the league to potential new fans (as FS1 has demonstrated they’re incapable of growing their properties, they can only service existing fans). While I personally appreciate the EFL Championship, Belgian League, etc. coverage on ESPN+ I don’t think you’re seeing ESPN paying much for them today and will have no problem dropping them if they’re economically unviable but keep in mind any other service wants those leagues going to have a higher breakeven point on them as ESPN+ grows into more homes than Peacock (“20M active monthly users”, no color on paid vs. free or how many non-Xfinity customers) or Paramount+ (“42M monthly subscribers globally across Paramount+, Pluto, Showtime OTT, BET+”, $983M of streaming rev in quarter ended June 30, 2021 including $483M of subscription rev).

  5. locofooty

    August 19, 2021 at 10:28 am

    ESPN attempting to pull an NBC/EPL strategy? Huh? When did ESPN every say that? Everyone knew when the rumors started all games would be on ESPN+. Everyone knows that if ESPN gets a soccer property, it’s going to ESPN+ with only a few games on linear networks. Heads up, EPL rights will be overpaid for. Harry Kane’s and Mbappe’s next contracts will be inflated. I won’t be shocked lol.

    ESPN/Disney is a global company. PPV, UFC, Hulu, Disney+ are all involved in one way or another. Their streaming service ESPN Star has kicked off around the world. There is a transition to streaming and it’s inevitable. This is more than just “let’s see ratings and subscriber numbers for La Liga on ESPN”.

  6. Mercator

    August 19, 2021 at 10:27 am

    I’m still not sure they overpaid at all. Sure, it would have been much better had Messi stayed a year or two, but they have Madrid and Barca for the next 8 years, including through the 2026 World Cup. $175 million may not seem like that much after the MLS and EPL get new deals. I think its generally a sound strategy – if you don’t have EPL the best you are going to get in euro soccer is La Liga. It’s not dominated by one team like France, Germany or Italy and it has the two biggest brands in the game. I’m not sure it will work, but I think it makes sense for ESPN to take a punt here. I don’t think they expect it to be that successful the first few years, I think they are hoping their marketing machine and the 2026 WC will make this deal look like a bargain in 5 years time.

    I also wouldn’t worry about the mouse having enough cash. All these streaming services are in growth mode, they don’t need to be cashflow positive, they just need to grow. How do we know this isn’t the first step in ESPN cornering the market… if they do splurge and get EPL rights in anyway, they will have the top 4 leagues (probably 5 including Bundesliga), and will have put everyone but CBS out of business.

  7. Michelangelo

    August 19, 2021 at 9:50 am

    Are we going to have a schedule for FIFA beach soccer

  8. Roberto

    August 19, 2021 at 9:38 am

    It is a mystery why ESPN would pay more for La Liga then the MLS. Viewer numbers are increasing for the MLS and so many games are broadcast. As was stated above, only the top La Liga teams are known and somewhat followed in the states. What it could mean is a big jump in what is paid to the MLS, in the next agreement.

  9. Edwin

    August 19, 2021 at 9:31 am

    @Karl the reason why folks are concerned about the profitability of La Liga on ESPN+ is if you’re a fan of foreign Euro soccer league on ESPN+ it squeezes the available dollar for potential retention of those deals. Plain in simple with so much money going to La Liga it’s was a WAY overpriced deal for the ratings La Liga provides which is 4th or 5th behind Liga MX, EPL and MLS. Your numbers are also a bit off ESPN only pays MLS $45M/yr through 2022 though MLS overall deals are $90M/yr through 2022.

    The bigger issue IMO with ESPN La Liga deal besides the gross overpay is the strategy. It’s attempt to pull of NBC EPL strategy from 2013-2017 but it’s half hearted pay a bunch of money for a league go hard promoting it but then stick it on ESPN+. La Liga just doesn’t have that many fans outside of Barca/Madrid to make a deal of this magnitude work. The other deals like MLS you mentioned are more tailored to the approach ESPN should try have a bunch of games on TV and a huge amount behind paywall, You’re making money on two fronts. EPL on NBC would’ve never worked if they showed a handful of matches on TV all year and put the rest on Peacock.

  10. Karl

    August 18, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    Why is everyone so concerned about how profitable the La Liga deal or ESPN+ is for Disney? They’re the largest media company on earth and they’ll be fine, but also this is way too narrowly focused on a single property.

    I took a quick dive into financials on ESPN and their main soccer rights:
    La Liga ($175M/yr through 2029)
    MLS ($75M/yr through 2022)
    Bundesliga ($30M/yr through 2026)
    These work out to annual obligations at present of $280M, or $23.33M/month (or $8.75M/month before the La Liga contract).

    On July 3, 2021 (prior to any La Liga games), ESPN+ had 14.9M subscribers (75% growth y/y) paying an average of $4.47/month (which does not include pay-per-view revenue), for a total of $66.6M/month and the Disney Direct-to-consumer segment had a $0.3 billion loss on $4.3 billion of revenue (57% growth y/y). Keep in mind that the La Liga coverage started with an additional $1/month in price, which means if growth drops from 75% to zero (highly unlikely), ESPN+ will only make an additional $300K/month of profit ($14.9M of new revenue less $14.6M of La Liga expense).

    Linear ESPN also had 84 million homes as of Sept 2020 paying something like $10-$12/month for it (almost exclusively bundled in cable subs along with a minimum of FX, Disney Channel, Nat Geo) and its unit continues to produce $1.8-$1.9B of revenue per month at a 30%+ margin as ad rev increases (important to note as ESPN is almost certainly bundling ad sales across linear ESPN & ESPN+) outpace affiliate rev declines.

  11. Edwin

    August 17, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    “ESPN didn’t overpay on La Liga. In addition to La Liga they picked up some of the Liga MX. The Hispanic Soccer fans alone is going to make up the money.”

    @Michael we’re all fans of the beautiful game here so me disagreeing with you isn’t personal but its a gross overpay for ESPN as another user mentioned it’s highly unlikely ESPN ends up + ROI and I felt that way before Messi left for PSG. The issue is there just aren’t enough fans of La Liga the 3rd most 4th to 5th most watched soccer league in the US to make the deal work. ESPN would need close to 1.25m new ESPN bundle subscribers at $13.99 mnth or 2.5mil individual ESPN+subscribers just to break even. There aren’t that many La Liga fans in the US. Even when Messi was in the league and Ronaldo was with Madrid peak La Liga the El Clasico games drew 700-800k. That’s great if every La Liga game capture that kind of audience. Instead reality if the game doesn’t involve Real or Barca the viewership is miniscule less than 100k. The Barca games will draw less than now without Messi. The ABC number from this weekend was 465k with Deportes with 134k. So about 600k watched the La Liga ABC debut not bad but it’s not $175m yr worth thats something a avg MLS on ABC game would draw but. La Liga games won’t be able to pay for themselves off TV ad revenue as only 2 two can draw and just about all the games are on ESPN+ anyway.

    So this new deal is doomed to fail. As I see a comment or two from on here from of other European leagues worrying about the overpay of La Liga rights by ESPN, there should be a worry as the rights go for 8 yrs. So it’s a long term commitment and it may make other Euro rights expendable as they expire during La Liga’s 8 yr term especially if the deal ends up being a anchor on ESPN. My bet is they’ll know by the end of year 1. These things don’t take long. I’m sure ESPN was thinking they could recreate the NBC/EPL phenomena but it’s failed so far with Serie A and Bundesliga so now they are trying with La Liga.

  12. Michelangelo

    August 16, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    Paramount Plus is dreadful. When I read this article of Paramount Obtain Italian, English, and Spanish broadcast. Some games on CBS Sports Network, 4k Streaming. I was very excited but Paramount doesn’t seem to care and it shows in their Coppa Italia coverage. I really hope they don’t disappoint when the Serie A season begins this Saturday. Some of the matches don’t work and the interface is horrendous. Thank you so much everyone and Forza Napoli!!!

  13. Michelangelo

    August 16, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    Please talk about Paramount Plus and their awful Coppa Italia coverage. The streams are horrible and the commentators are dreadful. The Crotone Brescia match went into extra time and the stream didn’t work. This is really upsetting for a new platform.

  14. Fechin Attuah

    August 15, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    @ Michelangelo CBS only cares about the UEFA cup competitions and the American cup competition

  15. Michelangelo

    August 15, 2021 at 2:12 pm

    @Fechin Attuah- Absolutely I don’t understand why these companies treat Serie A as a joke. Italy just won the EURO shouldn’t CBS have pride to broadcast the rights to Calcio. Their customer service team has no idea when I mention to them the Serie A, it’s ridiculous to say the least. If it wasn’t for WorldSoccertalk explaining that CBS bought the rights I would have no clue that they moved. ESPN should have never gotten rid of the Serie A. It’s crazy to see a beautiful league fall to the ground because of TV rights. Upset to my stomach.

  16. Fechin Attuah

    August 15, 2021 at 11:05 am

    Serie A has been a disappointment and it’s my 2nd favorite league too man I expected more outta CBS. Since they are collecting all these soccer rights. Looks like I’m going to watch Bundesliga instead this season if CBS doesn’t improve Serie A. Usually I like to focus on two leagues.

  17. Michelangelo

    August 15, 2021 at 7:55 am

    Please talk about how Paramount plus is trash they promised us so much and can’t deliver. It’s a shame that the Serie A is being thrown like a rag doll for broadcasters.

  18. dave

    August 15, 2021 at 12:32 am

    @Michael, I want to expand on your comment “ESPN didn’t overpay on La Liga. In addition to La Liga they picked up some of the Liga MX. The Hispanic Soccer fans alone is going to make up the money.”
    .
    This evening’s late Liga MX game on Univision just ended, followed by a 60-second commercial for La Liga and ESPN+ (“cada partido en vivo”). An ESPN+/La Liga ad on Univision is supporting evidence for your hypothesis that ESPN seek to grow their Hispanic audience. I am not as certain as you are that the finances will work out ROI-positive for ESPN, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

  19. Michelangelo

    August 13, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    So far Paramount Plus and their coverage for the Coppa Italia is absolutely garbage. Their stream is great but no pause or rewind option. Their Highlights and Special section doesn’t work at all. Their customer service has no idea what I’m talking about when I mention the Serie A. I wish Paramount the best but ESPN PLUS and their coverage was absolutely amazing this is horrendous? Thank you so much and Forza Napoli. We need better coverage and more information on their site?

  20. Michael

    August 13, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    ESPN didn’t overpay on La Liga. In addition to La Liga they picked up some of the Liga MX. The Hispanic Soccer fans alone is going to make up the money. In addition ESPN+ had several million more users because of the Disney+ bundle. If you read the latest reports from Forbes, Disney is doing great. Also $1.4 billion is not large compared to US sports. As much as I love La Liga, I realize that soccer is a fringe sport in this country and I am totally ok with this. I am that dedicated fringe user. Coming this fall, they are adding SEC football and NHL hockey to ESPN+. Just the addition of those users alone will pay for La Liga. I know that I am in the minority, but I could care less who gets the EPL. If it is on one of the apps that I pay for cool…if not…oh well.

  21. Nosferatu

    August 13, 2021 at 3:42 pm

    @Azer, thanks for that disheartening info. Kind of hard to believe they think we’d rather listen to Mark Donaldson call a big Bundesliga opener from the studio. He may be a good man, and might be okay in the studio, but I am not a fan of him calling a game.

    All these decisions speak to why I don’t want ESPN getting the Premier League. They hire these guys and employ them for years and fans don’t care for them (or outwardly dislike them) and what does ESPN do? They foist them on us more and more over time. This is not what the fans want! But ESPN is too far up its own backside that they have no idea.

  22. JP

    August 13, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    @Azer, you’re right this commentary is horrible and it’s not even Alejandro Moreno yet. At least beIN gave us the very competent world feed on the lesser profile matches.

    All so they can promote ESPN during the match, which isn’t possible with world feed.

  23. Michelangelo

    August 13, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    @Azer- Bring some of these announcers to Paramount Plus for the Serie A coverage. I’m currently watching the Coppa Italia on the Service and oh my it’s awful. The commentators are dreadful and no pause or rewind option. All streaming services have this option. @Azer any suggestions on commentators that would be best for those matchups?

  24. Azer

    August 13, 2021 at 12:04 pm

    Have you guys seen some of the commentators ESPN will be using for it’s leagues on ESPN+. I have and I don’t like it at all. I’m disappointed. Here are some of the games.
    Valencia vs Getafe – Sebastian Salazar & Kasey Keller
    Borussia Dortmund vs Eintracht Frankfurt – Mark Donaldson & Janusz Michallik
    Deportivo Alavez vs Real Madrid – Rob Palmer & Alejandro Moreno

    Why is ESPN doing this to us?

  25. Mercator

    August 13, 2021 at 11:36 am

    I’m not sure Messi won’t boost ratings. I had to sign up for Fanatiz again after I cancelled when La Liga moved, because my parents are insistent they be able to watch Messi. My 8 year old nephew wants a PSG jersey for his birthday… I thought he was a Barca fan! There is no one like Messi, he is the horse driving the football bandwagon.

    ESPN+ La Liga coverage is quite impressive. What is the daily La Liga news show they have? Seems like its from La Liga TV and not an ESPN production? Been enjoying it the last few days, good to see Ian Joy back! They also seem to have a daily La Liga show. Overall, much more content than I’ve seen for any league on any broadcaster. ESPN really can do a good job when they make an effort.

    David is awesome, does a really great job at the Athletic covering Arsenal with Amy. Him and Fab are the best in show in my opinion. Hopefully this means more and better coverage of Arsenal (lets all hope ESPN replaces their anti-Arsenal twitter/instagram admins too). I don’t think the season will be kind to us, but so glad to have the Arsenal back today!!

  26. Michelangelo (angelosl93)

    August 13, 2021 at 9:56 am

    I can’t wait for the Italian Serie A and Coppa Italia is finally here and I can’t wait to see what coverage Paramount and CBSSN provides us in the next upcoming months. Will the Italian SAP option be available for the Coppa Italia games and Serie A games? Also Their is a highlight called Coppa Italia magazine and it’s not working for some odd reason. I’m glad to see that Coppa Italia matches and Serie A matches will be streamed on Paramount Plus. Also is the CBSSN available on Paramount Plus or is that a separate app or channel you would need to obtain? I’m excited that Napoli will be playing on CBSSN. We need more information about the Serie A and Coppa Italia on their website since it dosen’t even say they have the rights to it yet. Paramount is very behind on their coverage and they need to step it up. How many games will CBSSN/CBS show on cable tv? Will we have a Golazo show option for the Italian Serie A? Will we be able to choose our favorite Italian Serie A team as our avatar? Will we have a soccer option on the app instead of going to the shows option? Paramount has a lot of questions to answer but I can say I have some faith in them and this could really work. Thank you so much and Forza Napoli!!!

  27. Michelangelo

    August 13, 2021 at 9:53 am

    How many matches will CBSSN/CBS broadcast? When will we have a Golazo zone coverage when multiple matches are being streamed at the same time? When will we be able to choose our favorite team? Will their be a soccer/Sports section? Is CBS SPORTS NETWORK and CBS on Paramount Plus? List of announcers? Will Alessandro Del Piero, Mateo Bonetti, and Andres Cordero be in the Serie A lineup? So many questions and concerns we have for Paramount? Thank you so much everyone and Forza Napoli!!!

  28. locofooty

    August 13, 2021 at 9:25 am

    If ESPN “overpaid” for La Liga, then someone will overpay for EPL. All these contracts are already inflated, just like footballer’s contracts. You’ll get your yearly $1 raise for whatever streaming service you have. Nothing new, nothing to be shocked about.

  29. Bry

    August 13, 2021 at 9:11 am

    I am actually very glad that ESPN+ got La Liga (and I follow the EFL and some Bundesliga teams, too.). I don’t think the La Liga contract will impair the other contracts; these deals are based on the revenue they generate, and La Liga has the potential to bring millions of new subscribers to ESPN+. Just think about those 25 million plus viewers that La LIga lost when DirecTV and Comcast dropped Bein. Many of them will be glad to pay $70/yr just to watch Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico, and the El Clasico matches.

    I’m also happy that we’re getting a few Segunda matches as well. I follow Eibar, and I will get to watch them begin their fight for promotion this afternoon on ESPN+.

  30. Bry

    August 13, 2021 at 8:41 am

    Sad that Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe will be playing and I won’t be watching if it’s only on Bein. I watched La Liga for years on Bein but hated their streaming apps and poor technology. I just can’t see subscribing to a Bein carrier just to see Ligue 1 matches when I have easier access to Premier, La Liga, Champions League, EFL, MLS, etc. Not to mention all the other programming on ESPN+, Peacock, and Paramount.

  31. jason

    August 13, 2021 at 8:37 am

    As an Espn+ subscriber I am disapointed that they overpaid for La Liga rights….a league which I have no interest at all in. I fear one day they won’t be able to renew the Bundesliga and the EFL when those contracts expires because they will be hamstrung to the La Liga deal. That would guarentee me dropping the subscription if that happens.

    Kind of a semi-miracle they got the Dutch Eredvise back actually.

  32. Chris Guardiano

    August 13, 2021 at 3:37 am

    Hi guys,
    I am back after being gone last week due to a busy work schedule. I wanted to give huge credit to Paramount+ for stepping up and being the new home in the US for the Scottish Premiership. The first few weeks of the season have been entertaining and it is great to see that the Old Firm is going to be aired on TV again because it is in my view one of the biggest derbies in world football. My question to either of you this week is: With ESPN having both La Liga & the Bundesliga for the foreseeable future along with spending huge amounts of money on other sports, where does this leave ESPN & MLS in terms of renewing the deal beyond 2022 in your view?

  33. Chris Guardiano

    August 13, 2021 at 1:00 am

    @UnitedFan 3478 a Fox/ESPN joint bid is unlikely to happen given the fact that ESPN has both La Liga and the Bundesliga and because both Fox & ESPN have College Football/Basketball from September-March which hurts their ability to broadcast EPL games on TV. What would end up happening if they got the rights is a lot of games would end up on ESPN+ and FS2. The only reason why ESPN/Fox partnership works for MLS is because the MLS season takes place from March-December which allows ESPN and Fox to broadcast games on the weekends during the summer when nothing else is going on apart from the MLB regular season. Also MLS structures its playoffs so that they can get those matches televised. The only major networks that are in the running for the EPL besides NBC are CBS and possibly Turner (TNT & TBS). If CBS got the rights, they would do the exact same thing NBC is doing with Peacock but to a greater extent. Turner would likely increase the number of games on TV since TNT & TBS don’t have a lot of live programming on weekends especially mornings.

  34. UnitedFan 3478

    August 12, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    When will the EPL TV Rights be announced? I just really want an ESPN/Fox joint bid to win the rights over NBC, NBC is terrible.

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