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Volume 26 No. 231
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CBS, Univision Set To Pay $140M Per Year For Champions League Rights

CBS and Univision will pay $140M per season for the rights to broadcast UEFA Champions League games in the U.S. beginning in August '21, an increase from the $100M Univision and Turner currently pay for the rights, according to Joe Reedy of the AP. The three-year deal is the "first major soccer property that CBS has landed." The EPL is on NBC, and Fox has "rights to FIFA events, including the men's and women's World Cups." Fox and ESPN "share rights" to MLS and the U.S. national teams. Turner currently is in its "second season airing the Champions League on TNT" (AP, 11/8). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Novy-Williams & Shaw noted live sports are a "key part" of CBS' lineup, which also includes NFL games and college basketball, but the net has not been "big in soccer" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 11/8).

INITIAL REPORT: CBS picked up the UCL's English-language rights and plans to carry games on its broadcast channel, CBSSN and CBS All-Access OTT platform. The fact that CBS won the bid is considered a shocking development to several sports business insiders, many of whom did not even know that the network was bidding on the rights. CBS' stealth bid comes just months before the network's merger with Viacom becomes official and has to be seen as a strong signal to the sports community that the network will become even more active in trying to get sports rights. The bid also represents a big vote of confidence by ViacomCBS in the CBS All Access platform. While other OTT services, like ESPN+, Peacock and HBO Max garner a lot of attention, CBS All Access quietly has amassed 8 million OTT subscribers, and the company now is adding top-quality sports rights, like UCL, to it in addition to the marquee sports rights that already are on CBS. Sources said Turner made a bid to renew the deal, but it was not high enough. ESPN bid for both English and Spanish-language rights that it would carry on ESPN+ and its linear networks. NBC Sports Group and Telemundo Sports made their bid together. Fox Sports is believed to have put forward a bid, though it was not said to be as aggressive as some of the other media outlets (John Ourand, THE DAILY).