CBS acquires Uefa Champions League rights two years early after Turner opts out of deal

CBS has picked up the English-language rights to the Uefa Champions League in the United States two years early after current rights-holder Turner Sports called time on its deal.

Last November, in a surprise development, CBS secured rights to the Champions League from the 2021-22 season through 2023-24.

However, CBS will now broadcast Europe’s flagship club soccer competition from August, in time for the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, as well as the 2020-21 campaign. It means that CBS will have rights to the Champions League for more than four seasons.

“This is a landmark acquisition for CBS as we add the world’s most popular sport to our extensive portfolio of marquee properties,” said CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus in a statement.

CBS has also gained the rights to the Europa League, Europa Conference League and Uefa Super Cup. All games will be streamed on the CBS All Access subscription service, with select games on linear television.

Further details about CBS’s 2019-20 coverage, including platforms and announcers, will be announced in the coming weeks. Select matches will appear on CBS Sports Network, Variety reports.

The latter stages of the Champions League are being held in Lisbon this year in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The move comes after Turner Sports called time on its deal with Uefa two years early after the B/R Live streaming platform, which the broadcaster had hoped to enhance, was folded into the Bleacher Report app. Turner’s remaining Uefa rights were also considered somewhat redundant after CBS had already acquired Champions League rights from the 2021-22 season.

It has not been disclosed how much CBS will pay for its new rights. However, it seems clear that Uefa had been extremely keen to find a US broadcaster in time for next month’s tournament finale, indicating that CBS secured a favorable deal.

“We had a very productive series of conversations and got the deal done relatively easily,” McManus told The Hollywood Reporter.

According to multiple reports, CBS will broadcast the draws for the latter stages of this year’s Champions League and Europa League on July 10 on its CBS All Access and CBS Sports HQ streaming platforms.

In a move which underlines the network’s growing commitment to soccer in the US, CBS secured the domestic rights to the National Women’s Soccer League in a three-year deal earlier this year.

It has paid off already. The opening game of the NWSL Challenge Cup was the most-watched match in league history, with an average of 572,000 viewers on the main CBS television network.