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CBS All Access is the new U.S. home of European soccer.
The streamer’s parent company, ViacomCBS, has inked a deal with UEFA that is set to begin in August with the conclusion of the 2019-2020 season. As part of the pact, all games will stream live on CBS All Access, with some high-profile matches also airing on CBS networks.
The deal expands on a pre-existing licensing agreement between ViacomCBS and UEFA that was set to kick off in 2021. Turner previously had a three-year deal with the league that would have run through the end of the 2020 season, but it walked away from the relationship early after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the current season.
CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus tells THR that after the deal with Turner ended, UEFA approached CBS about expanding the agreement the two companies had struck late last year. “We had a very productive series of conversations and got the deal done relatively easily,” he says.
The pact allows ViacomCBS to accelerate plans to pump more programming, particularly live sports, into the All Access streaming service. ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish has been vocal about his mandate to turn the $6-per-month service into a home for a broad content offering from the newly combined company, including programming from Nickelodeon and Paramount in addition to the CBS library and streaming originals.
“The timing couldn’t be better for us,” says ViacomCBS chief digital officer Marc DeBevoise. He says that the company is move up the timeline on plans for product features that will allow All Access to better serve up multiple live-streamed games at the same time, including features that let viewers more easily switch between game streams.
Live sports, Notes DeBevoise, can be a big selling point for streaming services, but few of its competitors are going after those rights. “They drive spikes and signups,” he explains, adding that the length of the Champions League season should also lead to increased engagement from subscribers who are there to watch the games.
TV networks have been eager to bring back live sports — and the advertising dollars that flow in as a result — after the coronavirus forced several major U.S. leagues to put a pause on their seasons. “People are hungry for really good live sports content, and this is some of the best live sports content in the world.” says McManus, citing that CBS’s PGA coverage from the most recent weekend was up 56 percent compared with 2019.
Coverage will begin in August with the remaining round of 16 matches for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. CBS All Access and CBS Sports will continue to be the exclusive English-language home in the U.S. for the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League through 2024. Univision has the rights to Spanish-language broadcasts in the U.S.
ViacomCBS did not disclose terms of the deal. Sports Business Daily previously reported that UEFA’s four-year deal with ViacomCBS and Univision was worth $150 million per year, and that Turner was paying more than $60 million per year for the rights.
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