Turner has grabbed U.S. rights to UEFA European soccer league games with plans to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming service next year. The deal marks the latest push by a major media conglom into the premium subscription streaming content arena.
Turner said Thursday it has set a multi-year deal for English-language rights to UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League games starting with the 2018-19 season. The games will air on Turner’s various linear TV platforms — TNT, TBS and TruTV — and will be the basis of a subscription digital offering. Turner said it would carry more than 340 games per season with the linear and digital offering combined.
Turner will use its Bleacher Report digital sports news hub as the launching pad for the streaming service. Pricing is still being determined, and it will incorporate advertising, Turner said.
“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,” said Turner president David Levy. “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.”
During the Champions League’s Group Stage season that runs from September to December, live games will air on linear channels on Tuesday and Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET and 3 p.m. ET. During the Knockout Phase in February, games will air on at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. Semi-final and championship games will air live on TNT or TBS. All other games will air live on the streaming platform.
The Turner Sports UEFA venture promises to add a sports channel to its growing portfolio of streaming-only services, which also includes the FilmStruck classic film channel and Boomerang vintage animation outlet.
“We believe world football is one of the most impactful growth properties in the U.S.,” said Turner Sports president Lenny Daniels. “Our shared vision with UEFA has led to the perfect opportunity to leverage the reach of Turner as we establish deeper connections with fans, while simultaneously creating new business ventures for our company.”