ViacomCBS on Thursday inked a deal to become the U.S. home of the marquee UEFA Champions League as well as the sibling UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League, with the pact kicking off in August. The four-year deal calls for games and programming to air live on a mix of CBS, CBSSN and CBS All Access, where all games in the package will stream live.
The news comes as NBC Sports and its streaming sibling Peacock Premium said today they will offer more than 175 exclusive English Premier League matches during the 2020-2021 season that is scheduled to begin in August. The more than 1500 hours of match and related programming is “the most robust offering ever available in the U.S.,” the units said today.
As for the ViacomCBS deal, the multi-platform English-language rights pact will pick up when the Champions League and Europa League resume after their forced shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic — beginning in August with the remaining Round of 16 matches for the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League and following on to the respective finals.
As part of the pact, CBS All Access will stream every UEFA club competition match live each season, along with the UEFA Super Cup, and beginning in 2021-2022 all UEFA Europa Conference League matches. Marquee matches will air on the CBS broadcast network and cabler CBS Sports Network over the length of the deal. ViacomCBS says it will be the most UEFA matches ever offered on U.S. broadcast television.
The deal was originally three-year deal starting with the 2021-2022 season. It now runs through 2024.
“This is a landmark acquisition for CBS as we add the world’s most popular sport to our extensive portfolio of marquee properties,” said Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports. “We’re excited to be the new home of the UEFA club competitions and looking forward to showcasing the best soccer in the world with a first-class presentation serving both the passionate and casual soccer fans, starting in August. Using a multi-platform approach across our broadcast, cable and digital assets, this partnership will leverage the power of ViacomCBS and CBS Sports to elevate and grow UEFA’s reach in the United States.”
As for the EPL, games on NBC and NBCSN will continue to be streamed as part of its deal on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. The Peacock offering includes full-event replays for all 380 matches on-demand (after 9 p.m. ET).
NBCUni said that content presented on NBC Sports Gold’s “Premier League Pass” will shift exclusively to Peacock Premium with the start of the next season, which is scheduled to kick off in August.
The current English season is wrapping after being delayed by the pandemic, with Liverpool, also the defending UEFA Champions League cupholder, clinching its first domestic title in 30 years.
Peacock launches nationally July 15, when it will offer free, exclusive EPL matches to celebrate the deal. Peacock, currently available only to Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex users, aired its first English match (Bournemouth-Crystal Palace) on June 20.
Meanwhile, the U.S. pro league Major League Soccer saw its second team this week forced to withdraw from the MLS is Back Tournament, with Nashville SC joining FC Dallas in exiting the tourney’s Orlando “bubble” because of the number of positive coronavirus tests. The league had to reconfigure its groups to accommodate the departures but is continuing on with the tourney, a bridge to the resumption of MLS’ season.
The tournament kicked off last night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and resumed today, with the final set for August 11. Games, which count in the standings, are airing on ESPN and Fox Sports entities.