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Future of Champions League rights in the U.S.

In the NEW episode, number 1396, Christopher Harris is joined by co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer to discuss several topics:

We discuss the improvements being made to Peacock, why we believe Alexi Lalas’ goes over-the-top at times with his analysis, the clunkiness of not having NBCSN available for Premier League games, does ESPN have a lack of depth in their co-commentator slot, is MLS at a disadvantage where soccer fans feel they can’t ‘burn the candle’ at both ends, our recommended matches to watch this weekend, who could be in the running for the rights to the UEFA Champions League after CBS’ deal ends, and much more.

Plus we answer your questions in the Listener Mailbag segment.

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.

HEAR MORE: Listen to our archive featuring hundreds of soccer interviews

Send in your questions, comments and feedback via e-mail, via Twitter (@worldsoccertalk) or Facebook. We’ll read them out on-air in the next episode.

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  1. SteveK

    February 17, 2022 at 9:37 am

    “Haven’t found the comments hard to find, they are still on the right just scroll down.”

    And when you scroll down, past row after row of outdated news from 4 weeks ago, outdated stories from 2 weeks ago, podcasts from 2 weeks ago, you finally get to recent comments, click on one, and instead of being taken directly to that comment you are merely taken to the article, you then have to scroll through the entire article and then have to click on a box that might say “102 comments”

    Then you click on that and have to hunt and peck through it to perhaps find the comment you wanted to read. Most will give up out of tediousness and frustration. I’ll say it again, this is a big mistake, it is anti-comment and anti-user, unless that is what you actually intend. What good is a pretty re-design when essential usability is withdrawn?

    • Christopher Harris

      February 17, 2022 at 11:19 am

      Patience, Steve! We’re working as hard as we can, and we will be evolving the site over the coming days and weeks.

  2. UnitedFan 3478

    February 16, 2022 at 8:09 pm

    I can only see either NBC or Fox/Fubo getting the UCL. It makes sense because NBC has the EPL, and Fox/Fubo already has a contract with UEFA. If Fox/Fubo did get the UCL, then they would have every single UEFA competition (National Teams and Clubs)
    NBC getting the UCL would be good for EPL fans, considering that fans of clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool can have everything in 1 place. Peacock can then stream every EPL, UCL, FA Cup, and EFL Cup game. I do expect the FA Cup and EFL to move from ESPN+ to Peacock, so that all of English Football is in 1 place. Just like how Paramount+ is the home of Italian Football and ESPN+ is the home Spanish and German Football.

  3. Mercator

    February 14, 2022 at 10:39 am

    First of all I love the new layout for the site. Easy to navigate and much more organised and visually appealing. Haven’t found the comments hard to find, they are still on the right just scroll down. Same for the upcoming matches, there is a tab up top with everything listed as expected. Only flaw is that Arsenal is not listed under the teams tab.

    I would LOVE for UCL to go to ESPN, it would be much better with ESPN multicast. Europa league and Champions League are built for multicast. I would be fine if it stayed on P+ as well, they have done a great job with the studio and all games are available to stream, if they had Multicast then I would prefer them to keep it. Fox/Fubo would be a disaster and NBC would be flawed as well because they would no doubt put some games on USA or CBS instead of having them all on Peacock. I would say a darkhorse favourite would have to be WarnerDiscovery though. The government cleared their merger so they should be in a good position to bid for the rights come 2024 and it would be their first opportunity to grab a top tier football property. I think Discovery is also in the lead to buy BT Sport in the UK which broadcasts the UCL in the UK, so there may be some synergies like NBC/Sky for EPL.

    I also saw Pluto TV is getting the Real Madrid TV as a free channel. Not a big madrista but this is a positive move, lets see if other clubs are willing to do the same.

    Also crazy how long the podcast has been going. I remember the 06 final and actually I was at a youth tournament in South Florida that week. Got absolutely destroyed by Mako Sharks and I think that was the moment I realised I should focus on school lol. Seems like a lifetime ago, so kudos to you both for keeping things going all these years.

  4. SteveK

    February 14, 2022 at 10:19 am

    I rarely agree with Ra and JP on anything but in this instance I do. The net effect of this redesign appears to me to marginalize both comments and the commenters themselves.

  5. JP

    February 14, 2022 at 10:13 am

    I’m with Ra in terms of navigation. The old format would take you right to the comment. Now have to scroll through the article, click on comments, and scroll through to find. If it’s a reply to an older comment, have to sift through to find because won’t be at the very end of the comments (and won’t know that until going to the very end of the comments).

    Also, the layout on desktop is very cluttered, less so on mobile (which I was using prior to this morning)

    Maybe look at this as a beta test and go back to the old format if the majority isn’t used to this/like better in a few weeks.

  6. Ra

    February 13, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    I like the new visual, but it is worse in terms of navigation. It is hard to know what news are new, and it is much harder to find and navigate to the comments section. Once you go to the article with the comments, you have to click the comment button and navigate all the way down.
    It would be better if comments are shown as a default, and they were organized from latest to earliest.

  7. Ra

    February 12, 2022 at 1:14 pm

    Necessity is the mother of invention. I am watching the game now on the Fox Sports app on my Chromecast TV. Just need to clean the app data and cache every now and then.

  8. Ra

    February 12, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    I thought that Chelsea had more followers than a handful. It seems like Palmeiras is playing a home match. I heard on TV that they call their stadium the library – is it true?

  9. Jasinho

    February 12, 2022 at 3:01 am

    Apologies for being a bit off topic with this post. However, I know we can play the speculation game until the cows come home, but I wouldn’t bet on ESPN getting the UCL since they are focused on acquiring NFL Sunday Ticket. Should that happen, ESPN’s annual expenditure for NFLST would likely match the total price of a potential six year deal for the UEFA club competitions. Having both may or may not be outside the realm of possibility for ESPN, but it is safe to say that the consumer price for ESPN+ would be substantially higher than what it is now.

    Just look at what Fubo is about to do with quarterly pricing instead of monthly. While a good strategy from a business end to circumvent those who only want to subscribe for the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers and the UEFA national team matches, that won’t exactly favor the consumer end of the deal.

    • Turfit

      February 12, 2022 at 12:05 pm

      @Jasinho, I’m willing to bet that the reason Fubo currently only offer quarterly pricing is to avoid short term signup of people that will only subscribe for one month in order to Watch the Superbowl. With them doubling the number of subscribers in the past year, their bandwidth may not be able to handle a large number of people streaming during the Superbowl. So it would be better to slow down new subscriptions and provide good streaming performance for their current subscribers. I expect in a few weeks they will be offering monthly rates again.

      • Mercator

        February 14, 2022 at 10:53 am

        @Turfit – I think its much worse than that. This is a cash grab by Fubo to lock in 3 months of revenue. Read what the analysts are saying about the company and it’s stock – they will be out of cash by 2023 unless something significant changes. Switching to quarterly only subscriptions allows the company to bring in 3 months of cash today instead of one, easing cash flow concerns, and allows them to bank 3 months of revenue instead of 1 if they do declare bankruptcy. If Fubo had the cash they would have had an ad or sponsorship during the Super Bowl last night – its the perfect intersection of sports and gambling and basically every other major player in the industry was involved (even YTTV sponsored the pre-game). Unfortunately, FUBO is not profitable, its not cash flow positive. That means they need to raise capital to continue spending and in today’s market, with the collapse of their stock, they aren’t going to be raising or borrowing new capital on great terms. Even if you think this is just to clamp down on people singing up for a month for the Super Bowl and leaving, it’s still a bad sign. Direct TV is offering a 5 day free trial – this is the time of year you do whatever you can to get people to try the product, it is NOT the time to be driving people away with hefty quarterly payments unless you REALLY need cash.

      • Ra

        February 14, 2022 at 11:01 am

        Pay 3 mo of Fubo because of Superbowl? Only if they were going after the dumbest of people. Peacock offered it for $5.
        They are one step ahead on reinventing cable.

  10. Ra

    February 11, 2022 at 9:19 pm

    @Chris I don’t follow basketball, but I use a simple site for motorsports:

    • Christopher Harris

      February 12, 2022 at 9:13 am

      Thank you Ra. Very interesting site!

      Readers, can you think of any sites for other sports that are similar to World Soccer Talk with TV and streaming listings?

      • JP

        February 12, 2022 at 9:57 am seems like a good source for college basketball (and other sports). Not sure if that’s the one mentioned on the pod, just found googling “college basketball on tv today”

        By the way, new layout looks nice. Will take some getting used to finding where everything is though

  11. Christopher Harris

    February 11, 2022 at 8:53 pm

    A favor to ask: On a recent podcast, one of you savvy listeners shared the name of a website that is similar to World Soccer Talk but features TV and streaming listings for all of the different college basketball games available in the United States across all of the networks.

    What is the name of that website?

    • Jasinho

      February 11, 2022 at 10:31 pm

      Are you referring to

  12. UnitedFan 3478

    February 11, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    Imagine if Fox and Fubo got the rights, so that they have both UEFA Club and National Team competitions.

    I still would rather have NBC get the rights over Fox.

  13. Bobb

    February 11, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    @UnitedFan 3478 Your way of thinking is self-centered. You watch EPL and want to watch UCL without paying more for a different subscription service.

    I enjoy watching Eredivisie, Bundesliga and La Liga all in one place on ESPN+. Would I like UCL to be there too? Of course, but the cost of adding Paramount+ is low enough that I do that for UCL with the added bonus of getting Serie A as well. I can enjoy everything except EPL and Ligue 1

    I get your logic on FA Cup, EPL et al being all in one place, but the UCL is European wide and can live anywhere. Personally I find the EPL to be overrated, and am happy with the current set up. Two subscriptions gets me almost all the soccer I could ever want to watch. Almost.

    Also, #*ck Fox if they get UCL. I will absolutely not pay money to subject myself to Alexi or that MLS announcer who’s always screaming at me. (pretty sure he’s the bald dude in the top right photo). I would find a broadcast in ANY other language to avoid them.

  14. Hans

    February 11, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    “It doesn’t make sense to make those soccer rights separate for England, it would be easier to have everything in one place.”
    Makes sense to you and I since we are the consumers, but makes absolutely no sense to those that shell out the mega bucks to present it to us. You have to separate what the fans want and what is profitable for the rights owners and who they think will give their property the most exposure, grow the brand and make more money for them.
    So what you and I want is far different than what UEFA wants. And while we are at it, In the UCL competition there are 4 English teams so NO it is not English football it is a European competition and I hope that Comcrap will keep their greedy little Digits from it as they surely will jack up the price and futz around with the format and fragment its presentation. Leave it at Paramount+ for the time being they are just fine for me.

  15. Ra

    February 11, 2022 at 12:04 pm

    @SteveK My absolute favorite is the ‘EPL is such an amazing property that they are doing us a favor of scr* us, they should fragment it and charge us even more”. It is hard to disagree if masochism is their thing. They just happen to choose Comcast in their findom fantasies.

  16. SteveK

    February 11, 2022 at 11:49 am

    The same place I saw that Comcast would be awarded the US rights package after they agreed to rollover the UK rights package, in my head. It’s a prediction, just based on my sense that there is going to have to be consolidation, cord cutters are already tired of shelling out $5 here and $7 there, and in order to stay relevant and hope to compete with the larger providers Comcast will have to become one of those larger providers themselves.

  17. UnitedFan 3478

    February 11, 2022 at 11:39 am

    @SteveK Where did you see that Comcast will acquire Paramount+?

  18. SteveK

    February 11, 2022 at 11:37 am

    All of the midweek games on USA recorded just fine for me Brendan, I am sure when the Olympics are over we will be back to the normal rotation of games split between USA and Peacock, along with the usual complaints here of how “this or that really important game should not be on Peacock because I can’t afford spending $5 a month” et al…topped only by the other tired complaint of “I’ll never watch any PL games until they are ALL on Peacock” et al. That last one is becoming my favorite.

    One interesting aspect of the upcoming Stephen Ross-led Champions League rights 2024-2027 determination in the US is this will be the first opportunity to gauge just how happy Disney/ESPN is with their new Stephen Ross-led La Liga rights deal for 8 years at $175m per year. Do they go back in heavy with both feet or just nibble? Since FOX has the World Cup and Euros methinks Comcast stays away & Disney goes in heavy for this, outbidding ViacomCBS.

    Personally, though, I’d like Paramount+ to retain the rights so when Comcast acquires and folds Paramount+ into Peacock we can count on having the PL and Champions League on the same streaming app for several years.

    • John G.

      February 11, 2022 at 8:23 pm

      You are basically saying that NBC would be acquiring CBS. Dream on… the Federal Government would never allow any kind of merger or acquisition between them.

  19. Brendan

    February 11, 2022 at 11:05 am

    I see USA is no longer showing EPL games .I tried to record the mid-week games but it wouldn’t go through . Now only the 12:30pm game Norwich v Man.City is available on NBC . The rest of the schedule is only available on Peacock . Is this because of the Winter Olympics or is this permanent

  20. JP

    February 11, 2022 at 10:59 am

    Paramount+ would be in rough shape if they lost UCL. Serie A rights come up the same year I think, 2024. If they were to lose one, would selfishly hope they lose both and they go to ESPN+ so all my leagues in one location. Pipe dream though, we know it will continue to be fragmented one way or another

  21. UnitedFan 3478

    February 11, 2022 at 9:24 am

    @locofooty Please explain why it is so bad for NBC to get the rights to the UCL. If CBS or ESPN got the EPL, then it would be better for the one with the EPL to also have the UCL. But because NBC renewed the EPL until 2028, it makes more sense for the UCL to be with NBC. It would be even better if every EPL and UCL game was on Peacock. With games on NBC and USA Network too.

    • locofooty

      February 11, 2022 at 11:17 am

      Ah ok, so since your main league is EPL and you already pay for a fragmented service, then you don’t care about the CL being fragmented. Got it. LOL.

  22. locofooty

    February 11, 2022 at 9:09 am

    UnitedFan wants to be held hostage by Comcast, the cable company, with another soccer property. No thanks.

  23. Ra

    February 11, 2022 at 9:06 am

    @UnitedFan 3478 It always amazes me how people consider cable a sunk cost, as inevitable as death and taxes… It is by far the largest expense item, and useless for the most part if your main interest is soccer.
    There are so few games on cable that really interest me, that it is more economical to watch them in a bar having a beer.

  24. UnitedFan 3478

    February 11, 2022 at 8:47 am

    @Ra I meant streaming services. Yes, you would need cable if NBC got the UCL, unless they put every EPL and UCL game on Peacock.

    • TheOriginalTom

      February 11, 2022 at 2:45 pm

      UnitedFan 3478 – I don’t have cable, but I need to get ESPN for MLS, ESPNFC show, FA Cup, and occasional lower league English Soccer. I also need Paramont+ for Star Trek and the occasional Seria A game; and I am getting Peacock for EPL; so either way I need 3 streaming services (not to mention stuff for other family members. But they are pretty cheap. The most annoying this month is I like Club World Cup, which is on Fox, so I added something for that for single month. I think the point is, yes, I would rather pay less, but no, I don’t see how that is anybody’s business strategy. It is cheaper the cable, which I do get during college football season, but might blow off next year when the pandemic is over.

  25. Don

    February 11, 2022 at 7:46 am

    Please NO to NBC. I’d love to watch the PL but I will never buy cable again. Paramount Plus putting ALL the matches on their streaming service is the only way I’ll watch. I’d be fine with ESPN getting it so long as you can watch EVERY match on ESPN+.

    Until you can watch every Premier league match LIVE on Peacock count me out for any football deal in the future.

  26. Ra

    February 11, 2022 at 7:12 am

    Why does Peacock have a main menu for Olympics, and even WWE, but not EPL? Is it because they see it as less important? I always assumed they had WWE there because they did not want to upset fans by putting that under TV shows, along other scripted TV shows.

    • Jonathan

      February 16, 2022 at 7:36 pm

      They have WWE on their front page because NBC paid $1 billion for the rights. They basically absorbed what used to be a separate streaming service, the WWE Network. The whole WWE Network library is on Peacock, hence why it has top billing.

  27. Ra

    February 11, 2022 at 7:08 am

    ,@UnitedFan 3478 I don’t understand your math. You need 3 services, not 2: Peacock, Paramount and cable (USA channel).

  28. UnitedFan 3478

    February 11, 2022 at 6:40 am

    @Fechin That’s why the UCL should go to NBC

  29. Fechin

    February 10, 2022 at 11:08 pm

    I think the UEFA champions league rights should stay with paramount+. The EFL and the FA cup and EFL championship need to go with NBC to combine the rights with the Premier league it would make sense to have an all UK package for soccer like how the bundesliga, la liga have on espn plus and Serie A on paramount plus. It doesn’t make sense to make those soccer rights separate for England, it would be easier to have everything in one place.

  30. UnitedFan 3478

    February 10, 2022 at 9:25 pm

    @Leo, Wouldn’t you rather pay for just 1 service and not 2 services? I bet EPL fans are frustrated because they have to pay for 2 services. That’s why NBC needs the EPL, UCL, EFL, and FA Cup.

  31. Leo

    February 10, 2022 at 9:20 pm

    @UnitedFan 3478, No, NBC don’t need UCL. They already got the EPL fans (like you) in their pockets until 2028. ESPN are the ones that want to capture EPL fans now and UCL is a perfect way to do it. And, Paramount+ need badly UCL to remain powerful in the sporting streaming market for several years..

  32. UnitedFan 3478

    February 10, 2022 at 9:04 pm

    @Leo So many people really wanted the EPL to stay with NBC, and they got their way, If ESPN got the EPL, then I’d want them to get the UCL. But because NBC renewed the rights until 2028, It’s better NBC gets the UCL rights. Unless Fox wants to get the rights, so that they have both the UEFA club and national team competitions.

  33. UnitedFan 3478

    February 10, 2022 at 8:59 pm

    @Leo I understand what you’re saying. However, it would make more sense for NBC to get it. Why would anyone want to pay more money to watch the UCL when NBC can win the rights to the UCL and put games on NBC, USA, and Peacock. It’s way better to make NBC the home of English Football. That way, we would only have to pay for 1 service, which would include the EPL and UCL, and the FA Cup and EFL if they get those rights too.
    Would you rather pay for 1 service or 2 services?

    • Louden

      February 11, 2022 at 2:27 pm

      UCL isn’t just English football. Paramount+, Fox Sports, and ESPN+ have the other European leagues so wouldn’t the same sort of continuity hold sense for them?

  34. Leo

    February 10, 2022 at 8:37 pm

    @UnitedFan 3478, the UCL is a valuable and very expensive soccer property. It only makes sense that the runners-up of the EPL bid will invest all that money towards the UCL. Hence, ESPN will surely land the UCL in the triennium 2024-2027. Of course, Paramount+ have done an outstanding job and could retain the rights as well. Whatever people say, others companies (HBO, Discovery, Amazon, Apple, DAZN, etc.) have 1% or less chance to get them and UEFA won’t risk another B/R scenario in the richest market of the world.

  35. dave

    February 10, 2022 at 8:08 pm

    Happy 1396th anniversary! That is an incredible amount of content. I am intrigued about the upcoming announcement.
    You (and @Yespage in the previous podcast comments) mention ad-free Peacock. The T&C state “Due to streaming rights, a small amount of programming, Peacock channels, live events, and a few TV shows and movies, will still contain ads.” My interpretation – just a guess – is live sports have the same number of ads regardless of plan. Do you have better information on that?

  36. UnitedFan 3478

    February 10, 2022 at 5:02 pm

    @locofooty Why wouldn’t you want the EPL and UCL on the same channel? It would be good if NBC got the UCL so that we don’t have to pay for so many services. Especially if NBC gets the FA Cup and EFL.

  37. UnitedFan 3478

    February 10, 2022 at 4:03 pm

    Is NBC planning to get the UCL rights? The EPL and UCL on the same channel would make total sense.

    • locofooty

      February 10, 2022 at 4:19 pm

      NO. If NCBSN was still avail maybe.

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