Turner to showcase Champions League on new OTT platform
Turner, the US media giant, is to launch an over-top-streaming platform next year to showcase its rights to the Uefa Champions League from the 2018-19 season onwards.
Earlier this year, Turner landed the exclusive multi-platform English-language rights in USA to the Champions League and second-tier Europa League for the next three season cycle.
Turner announced today that the deal will include coverage of more than 340 Uefa matches per season across its television and digital platforms and new OTT service.
Bleacher Report, the ‘millennial’-focused sports website owned by Turner, will serve as a portal for live coverage of the European games on the new OTT platform.
In addition, the website will provide “extensive”
year-long clips and original content across its social media platforms and
Turner's announcement comes hot on the heels of the news that Walt Disney, the owner of ESPN, will launch ‘Netflix style’ direct-to-consumer OTT services next year after buying a majority stake in BAMTech, the live streaming technology company.
Turner’s Champions League coverage will include four live television broadcasts each week throughout the group stage of the competition, which runs from September to December.
The network will then show two games per week during the knockout phase of the tournament from February onwards. The semi-finals and final as well as the Europa League final will be nationally televised on Turner’s TBS or TNT channels.
Some matches will also be televised on TruTV, the broadcasters entertainment and reality channel.
All other matches and Europa League games will be available to watch live on the OTT service.
The deal also includes television coverage of the Uefa Super Cup, the annual match between the winners of the two tournaments.
David Levy, president of Turner, commented: “The launch of Turner’s new OTT sports platform and partnership with Uefa aligns with the company’s continued strategy to further expand the distribution ecosystem and our ongoing commitment to engage fans with premium content they crave across all platforms.
“These highly-anticipated matches and supplemental original programming will be a key foundation for our latest direct to consumer business sports offering, as well as coveted content for Bleacher Report and our leading television networks. In addition to the new audiences we’ll attract through the streaming service, the partnership will leverage the tremendous reach we have with our television networks and Bleacher Report’s position as the leading digital destination for millennial fans.”
In February, Turner, which has not aired a leading soccer tournament since the 1990 Fifa World Cup, beat incumbent rights-holder Fox Sports to the new cycle of rights, while Univision picked up the Spanish-language rights, in a deal brokered by Team Marketing, the agency that sells the rights on behalf of Uefa.
The new agreements are thought to be worth just under $100 million per season, almost double the value of the current contract, with Turner to pay over $60 million per season and Univision shelling out an annual sum of around $35 million.
Fox picked up the rights to Europe’s elite soccer competition in 2009, displacing rival ESPN, and also holds the US broadcast rights to the World Cup until 2026.
In the current rights cycle, Fox has recouped some of its investment by sub-licensing selected English-language and Spanish-language Champions League rights to ESPN.