Having already acquired several sports properties, The CW may turn its attention to soccer. Nexstar Media Group’s broadcast TV channel had previously been reserved for TV shows, movies, and news programs. However, in 2023, the channel dipped into the sports market with the American rights to LIV Golf broadcasts.

Yet, the plan for the channel is to add to a blooming array of sports properties with content from ESPN. The CW is currently in talks with ESPN as a potential partner to put more sports content on the channel. In an interview with Deadline, The CW President Dennis Miller said the rate at which the channel is acquiring sports TV rights has been surprising for everyone at the company.

Nexstar, which owns 75% of the CW, has benefited from the struggles of regional sports networks in recent years. Not only are rights deals cheaper, but they are becoming more readily available. As a result, The CW added several sports properties to go along with its broadcasting of LIV Golf. For example, college football, college basketball, the WWE, and NASCAR now use the CW as a means of broadcast TV.

The CW is using MLS as an example

The next natural step, at least in the eyes of The CW, is giving ESPN+ content a home on over-the-air broadcast TV. Miller used MLS Season Pass from Apple TV as an example. All games are available on streaming via Apple’s platforms. However, one game per week is usually available on linear television through FOX or Fox Sports 1.

According to Deadline, “Miller said execs are in active discussions with ESPN and other companies about potentially grabbing linear broadcast rights to properties that live elsewhere. A template for that has emerged with sports like the MLS, which created a new streaming venture with Apple but then cut a linear deal with Fox. Miller said those arrangements could be game-changers for The CW and its affiliates, which had subsisted on a diet of 10 to 12 hours of originals every week.”

The massive amount of streaming sports content on ESPN+ could use The CW in the same means MLS uses FOX.

The CW could use soccer that airs on ESPN+

According to Miller, the pitch to sports providers like ESPN is simple. People may not see live content on ESPN+ because there is just too much on the platform. The CW gives it proper recognition, and thus more interest from the leagues and competitions that may appear on The CW.

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“A lot of the other players in sports have too much sports than they can actually play in broadcast,” Miller said. “There’s this tension between, ‘I could get a huge check from a streamer, but no one will be able to find it anywhere’ and you get full reach, everyone in the country, for your college or your particular sport or league here.”

Airing several games on The CW for competitions exclusive to streaming can grow the audience for ESPN.

“Hey, why don’t we carve off a set of games and events here that we can put on and give the full reach of broadcast TV? You’re going to see more partnerships like that.”

Soccer on ESPN+ to broadcast TV

Miller said specifically that he wants to partner with something like Inside the NFL. Although it is impossible to compete with the popularity of the NFL on Sundays, he said a companion piece to the NFL show that airs on Tuesdays can make The CW a mainstay in the sports community.

Partnering with ESPN would give The CW the chance to broadcast soccer games from the Bundesliga, LaLiga, Eredivisie and other competitions on over-the-air broadcast television. Sure, ESPN/Disney has ABC, but ABC is often filled with its programming. In this hypothetical partnership, more soccer fans would have access to select soccer games without an ESPN+ subscription.