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Your move ESPN+… LaLiga or Premier League?

In the NEW episode, number 215, Christopher Harris and co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer cover a range of topics including:

• News about which league got its highest-rated-ever game on US TV
• What the CBS Serie A deal means for ESPN+ and Peacock
• Latest news on where you can watch Copa America this summer
• Will ESPN+ now go for Premier League after losing Serie A?
• Plus letters from you, the listeners, in our mailbag section.

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. Don Dickerson

    March 31, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    Taking time off is necessary even if you have the best job anyone would want. Well any of us that come here daily would want.

    Personally I’m not watching the matches that are going on now. I can not get into the country vs country qualifying group rounds for some reason. I can sit and watch 3rd tier teams but the supposed best is just a yawn fest.

    As for streaming I hope Paramount+ will make the live matches available on the main screen say like Hulu does with ESPN+.

    Over the rest of this year do you see a major shake up with where some high profile players end up. I’m thinking the likes of Messi/Ronaldo/Haaland/Aguero and what it means not only for their clubs but there respective Leagues as a whole.

  2. JP

    March 29, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    If La Liga somehow exits their deal with beIN before 2024 I don’t see how they survive. Copa Libertadores is nice, but wouldn’t make it a point to subscribe for it. Same with Ligue Un.

    So if that comes to pass, all those other properties would need a new home. Copa Libertadores would make sense for Paramount+ to go along with the Argentine and Brazilian leagues. Ligue Un to ESPN+

    Turkish Super Lig likely goes homeless

  3. Roberto

    March 27, 2021 at 2:38 pm

    This is a supposed alternative to the Euro super league. The the chosen ones may concentrate on this “improved” version of the champions league, it could be actually good for the domestic leagues. They could be more competitive and if the coverage is via another service, more of the regular games could be aired and the money spread out and not all mainly going to the top six. We can hope that greed will have a cost.

  4. Jesus

    March 27, 2021 at 11:33 am

    Very true. The new Champions League will have a detrimental effect on domestic league play and the top clubs will not have the same impetus to win every league game but will concentrate on doing well in the Champions league.

  5. Michael F

    March 27, 2021 at 9:27 am

    Not sure if anyone has mentioned it, I didn’t seem to hear it on the podcast — but it is very significant to consider the impact of the new ‘Swiss Model’ that is expected to be approved for the Champions League to go into effect post-2024. It will greatly diminish the importance of domestic league play and the top spots required to gain entry into the Champions League.
    This could persuade any provider’s importance to retain or obtain a domestic league that will look quite different in overall importance.
    At any event, this approval for Champions League reform is a very sad consequence for the traditional domestic leagues. Only benefits the rich clubs, and most certainly not the fans of this beautiful game.

  6. Karl

    March 26, 2021 at 3:12 pm

    One of the best episodes in recent memory, great work!

    I think the recent CBS/Paramount+ acquisitions, along with this week’s ViacomCBS $3B share offering primarily for Paramount+ content (which I interpret as some P+ original shows but largely sports rights) showing they’re actually taking actions toward not being a second fiddle service. Some other very interesting takeaways from this:

    *EPL rights, as you guys discussed, are certainly going to be fascinating as at least three obvious and deep-pocketed bidders are in play as NBC, ESPN, and CBS/Paramount+ all have Wall Street focused on app subscriber growth rather than near-term profitability right now. Amazon also has a bottomless supply of cash and a new live sports interest (as evidenced by taking the NFL’s 16-game Thursday Night package exclusively and potentially an NFL playoff game) in addition to an existing (though small) EPL relationship in the UK.
    *While ESPN & CBS/P+ are probably both interested in La Liga, they also both have two key points of leverage with beIN/La Liga, 1. Messi is widely expected to only have 10 games left in that league and the value of the rights will absolutely decline. The second being that how many incremental subscribers can La Liga add to ESPN+/P+ that aren’t already subscribed? While La Liga certainly have dedicated fans, ESPN+ or P+ once they get La Liga rights that weren’t already subscribed for the other soccer offerings? That particular league seems to be much more of a buyer’s market more than a seller’s market.
    *I also see the emergence of CBS/P+ and their CONCACAF rights as a huge boon for MLS/US Soccer, who will have a new TV deal starting in 2023 taking through the 2026 World Cup and were previously likely stuck with only ESPN & Fox interest. While national ratings for MLS are weak, the sum (no pun intended) of all club’s local/regional rights (as is rumored to be bundled with the national deal) is likely the most valuable piece of the MLS rights if you’re looking to grow subscribers. MLS seems to consistently bungle their marketing though, so I have low expectations.
    *If beIN loses La Liga, I have to think that’s the end of their US operations. I don’t see what would basically be a Ligue 1 channel having any interest from cable or streaming-bundle companies.

  7. Hans

    March 26, 2021 at 2:33 pm

    That multicast is a game changer for those in the Apple ecosystem nut for those of us that are on Chromecast with Google TV or Roku it is not. I own Apple stock so please keep on lauding the great service that the Apple TV box provides but I stick with Chromecast with Google TV or Roku Ultra.

  8. Leo

    March 26, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    I used to pay $20 a month for Foxsoccermatchpass to watch Bundesliga. Obviously starting the current season I found ESPN+ is much better service for a fraction of that price. And the big bonus was the Serie A. Lately I was starting to like a lot to watch the sunday afternoons Serie A game with its long pre-match where they covered several weekend football results. Good thing is that Bundesliga will open a sunday afternoon timeslot for 10 weekends from next season onwards, not to mention they will move their ‘2.Bundesliga game of the week’ from monday afternoons to saturday afternoons (following their ‘Bundesliga game of the week’) filling some rather empty weekend afternoons that I used to fill with Serie A. Hopefully CBS do a great job with Serie A, maybe that will be the next destination of Bundesliga in 2026.

  9. Kalr

    March 26, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    @Nosferatu Very weird that is better tech than ESPN+ when they’ve both always been products of Disney Streaming Services, formerly BAMTech.

  10. Jose

    March 26, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    Looking forward to Serie A coverage in Paramount Plus, mainly because how great has been their pre match, post match for champions league.

    Even the Europa League is a joy to watch with the golazo show.

    While ESPN plus technology is superior to Paramount, if coverage is similar to Champions League, Serie A will have a great new home.

  11. Turfit

    March 26, 2021 at 11:16 am

    Was watching the Concacaf Qualifiers on Paramount+ last night while making dinner, looked up and there was a goal that was scored, walked over to my TV and grabbed my Roku remote to rewind to watched the buildup of the goal when I remembered that the newest of services has the worse features. This service is not worth the 50% off that I paid for it.

  12. D

    March 26, 2021 at 10:12 am

    MLS has some programming value to ESPN/ABC as during its season, ESPN doesn’t really have a ton of major rights on Sundays (plus Saturdays are okay during the summer)- obviously, its NFL package is Monday nights. Usually 1 NBA game in the afternoon or primetime and Sunday Night Baseball, and that’s really it. Plus, the demographics are really good for advertisers.

  13. Roberto

    March 26, 2021 at 8:55 am

    A while ago it seemed to me that being paid for watching football was the perfect setup. Now, after hearing about your football fatigue, I realize why when I recommend football books to you there is no time to read. This past year with the rearranged schedules, there has been fairly constant football.
    Now this summer when there should mainly be MLS to watch, there are the Euros. I mostly watch teams I support. Add to that highlights of other interesting games and not that much time is spent in front of the TV. Too much time sitting is not good. So, I sure hope there is a way for you both to continue your work and at the same time, stay healthy.
    With the way ABC/ESPN is covering the MLS this season, they must plan on trying hard to keep it on their networks.

  14. Chris Guardiano

    March 26, 2021 at 2:41 am

    Hi guys,
    When it comes to Serie A being on CBS/Paramount+, the amount of games on TV really depends in my view on if CBS can get the rights to other college football conferences to replace the SEC which they are losing after the 2023 season which is right in the middle of year 3 of the deal they have with Serie A. I have been reading that the Pac-12 is CBS’s prime target when it comes to college football because their current TV contract expires in 2023 as well although there is a buyout/sub-licensing clause that can be used beginning this upcoming season and the Pac-12 is quite unhappy with the amount of coverage they are getting by Fox when compared to the Big 10/12. If CBS gets the Pac-12 through this method before 2023, expect the number of Serie A games on over the air CBS to be relatively few or not all especially on Saturdays and the majority of TV matches get moved to CBS Sports Network. If CBS does not get the Pac-12, then I could see them airing a “Game of the Week” from Serie A on Saturday mornings to fill the gap. Lastly, I have a question for Chris or Kartik about NBC. My question is: Do you see NBC being involved in the bidding for the next MLS TV contract given their brief history with the league from 2012-2014?

  15. Nosferatu

    March 26, 2021 at 2:29 am

    @Mercator, it’s funny because on one hand I can see where you’re coming from with the praise for ESPN+, particularly for having the live DVR functions. Yet as a hockey fan, I’m actually fretting a bit in advance of the move for the NHL’s streaming service,, to ESPN+ in the fall, because I worry in that case it’ll be a regression for hockey fans. has even better live and on-demand DVR controls (ability to start a live game from live or the start, ability to jump straight to the start of any period) and its picture quality seems to be superior right now to ESPN+’s.

    Of course, this all goes to show just how far behind Peacock and Paramount+ are, and to me how ridiculous it is that pay services like these are operating on technology that is so outdated.

  16. Mercator

    March 26, 2021 at 12:30 am

    I watch the Arsenal. Everything else is really optional. But I’ve been watching much more Bundesliga and Seria A ever since they were on ESPN+, simply because the platform is so good. I know I say this every comment but the Multicast is a game changer. It gets you into matches and leagues you otherwise wouldn’t watch and allows them to take advantage of having a dozen more minor leagues. I will watch less Seria A now that its on P+, and I will watch more La Liga if it is on ESPN+, and if ESPN+ gets the PL then its probably over for these other services outside of CL/Europa for me. I don’t understand how ESPN+ can be so good and other platforms can’t manage a pause/rewind/FF function.

    I also think Seria A wasn’t very wise to sign such a short agreement. I’m not a businessman but I have to think we are near a peak time for what these networks will pay for low ratings sports rights, since they are all desperate to launch their streaming services. 3-5 years from now they won’t need European soccer to drive subscribers, and the real hardcore fans will have figured out how to pirate the games they want anyway. Lock in the big numbers for as long as you can while you can.

  17. KL

    March 25, 2021 at 9:22 pm

    I watched a replay of the USA v Jamaica game today. For the first 10ish minutes there was no scoreboard or commentary. Did that happen in the live feed?

  18. Fechin Attuah

    March 25, 2021 at 8:01 pm

    I believe espn+ will go for la liga depending on if Messi stays in the league while I think Peacock will stream all their games on peacock and some games on simulcast hopefully. Ligue 1 I don’t know much where they are going to go. I’m still waiting for the nhl being renewed with NBC/Peacock but who knows it maybe could reflect on resigning with them because NBC might have to cut a sport out since I know INDYCAR needs to be renewed as well in 2021
    Next season is the premier league contract is up while the nascar contract is up in 2024

    MLS is going to ESPN plus/ABC/ESPN I believe.

  19. JP

    March 25, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    I don’t think moving to CBS is going to increase the profile of Serie A all that much from where it is now with ESPN. Quite frankly, since we don’t get viewership numbers from ESPN+, debatable if moving to ESPN+ improved the profile all that much from where it was on beIN.

    All of us here are in sort of a soccer bubble so probably overstate the reach ESPN+ and other streaming providers give these leagues. The casual fans aren’t rushing out to subscribe for soccer, if they subscribe at all.

    EPL increased their profile with the casual fans because NBC heavily promoted and made most matches easily accessible at consistent time slots and channels. Unless CBS shows Serie A on over the air CBS once a week and 2-3 matches on CBSSN (say the 9am window Saturday and Sunday), it’s going to be just like ESPN+ under a different name. Hardcore supporters will follow, the casuals won’t notice.

    In regards to the mailbag comment about MLS support being regional much like the NHL, spot on. However don’t think that’s a terrible situation. Outside of football (NFL and college), maybe only the NBA also has a national following for out or market games. Even then, it’s only for a few select teams like whomever Lebron happens to be playing for that season and the other super team or two of the day. The vast majority of NBA teams don’t move the needle outside their home market.

    So MLS’s business model of getting strong local support (preferably in the stadium) is wise. Everyone can’t be the NFL, and can be argued much of the interest in NFL is driven by gambling and fantasy. Never gambled much besides a few season long pools back in the day, but once I stopped that and eventually fantasy as well, my interest in watching games not involving the local team plummeted to levels comparable to other American sports. Which means don’t follow ‘nationally’ until the playoffs and only if a matchup is interesting.

  20. Edwin Games

    March 25, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    Great podcast but one question Chris can you square away how you think there might be few MLS suitors or that MLS might have a issue when Serie A just got a $75m yr deal with WAY fewer viewership.

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