UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, along with the European Club Association (ECA) have today (July 11) announced the launch of the US media rights sales process for top-tier UEFA club competition action in the next broadcast cycle from 2024-25.

Relevant Sports Group, the US-based sports marketing agency, will act as UEFA and the ECA’s sales agent for this tender, having been appointed as such in early February.

The sales process, for the cycle running between 2024-25 and 2026-27, is expected to be completed before the start of the 2022-23 European soccer season, an ECA announcement has said. The tender will cover rights to the top-tier UEFA Champions League, second-tier UEFA Europa League and third-tier UEFA Europa Conference League.

Currently, all those competitions are covered in the US by national network Paramount (previously called CBS), with those rights running through to the end of 2023-24 from a three-season deal struck in March 2020.

Paramount and its Spanish-language partner Televisa Univision currently show some games on their main networks, with others carried on their cable sports channels and via streaming services.

Before CBS took over, UEFA club competition rights in the US were held by Turner Sports.

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The start of 2024-25 will see a dramatic change in the make-up of the Champions League. The number of teams will increase from 32 currently to 36, and each side competing in the initial group stages will play eight games, up from six now. 

This will result in significantly more games to present to broadcasters during tender processes such as this one.

The ECA has said that Relevent “will help UEFA and the ECA navigate the market, securing media partners who will accelerate growth in the US for the benefit of all European clubs.”

The US agency was appointed as UEFA and the ECA’s partner for that specific territory in February, in a move that represented a seismic reshuffle of the governing body’s media rights arrangements. 

Since 1993, the Team Marketing agency has been UEFA’s exclusive partner agency worldwide, but now Relevent has sliced off a chunk of those rights.

Team will, however, carry on as the sales agent in all other territories. 

UEFA first issued a tender for the global commercial rights in mid-October last year, which represented a major break from its previous policy of agreeing to a set of terms with Team every three years, behind closed doors, based on the agency's meeting of certain performance indicators during the previous cycle.

It was reported earlier this year that Team and Relevant came out on top of rivals including IMG, Infront, and Octagon after a two-day, three-round selection process during a set of UEFA meetings at which representatives from Europe’s top-tier clubs – through the ECA – were also present.

This sales process for club competition media rights is getting underway less than two weeks after UEFA sealed new contracts for the cycle up to the end of 2026-27 in France and the UK.

BT Sport and Amazon will split live rights in the UK (with the BBC to cover highlights for the first time), while in France existing partner Canal Plus has renewed with UEFA and Team.