Turner Strikes Deal for European Soccer Tournaments, Plans Sports Streaming Service

THR David Levy - H 2015
Adam Amengual

THR David Levy - H 2015

The deal is in line with the company's strategy to "further expand the distribution ecosystem and our ongoing commitment to engage fans with premium content they crave across all platforms," says Turner's David Levy.

Time Warner's cable networks unit, Turner, and UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, on Thursday unveiled a three-year multiplatform rights agreement for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League tournaments, beginning with the 2018-2019 season.

Turner also announced plans to launch a new stand-alone premium sports streaming video service "with the expansive collection of UEFA matches serving as a core pillar of the direct-to-consumer offering." The new over-the-top sports service will debut in 2018.

With the deals, Turner will be the exclusive media partner in the United States for English-language coverage of two of the most popular sporting events in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European soccer. Turner will present more than 340 UEFA matches per season across the company’s TV and digital platforms.

The launch of Turner’s sports OTT platform is part of its growing portfolio of direct-to-consumer offerings, including FilmStruck and Boomerang.

"Matches will be offered direct to consumers through Turner’s newly created premium OTT sports platform," the company said. "Additionally, Bleacher Report — the leading digital destination for millennial sports fans — will serve as a portal to the OTT service and the live UEFA matches offered through the new platform." Live matches will also be regularly televised across TBS, TNT and/or truTV.

Bleacher Report will provide year-long UEFA clips and original content across its suite of millennial-focused owned and operated products and its accounts on various social media platforms.

"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 David Levy, president, Turner. "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."

Said Lenny Daniels, president, Turner Sports: "We believe world [soccer] is one of the most impactful growth properties in the U.S. 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."

Turner’s UEFA Champions League coverage will include four live telecasts each week throughout the group stage and two televised matches per week during the knockout phase. All other matches will be available live through Turner's new OTT sports platform. All semifinal matches, along with the UEFA Champions League final, will be nationally televised on TBS or TNT, Turner said.

UEFA Europa League matches will be available through Turner's OTT sports platform, with the final to be televised on TBS or TNT.