An invitation to submit offers (ISO) will soon be launched in the US market for rights to the Uefa Champions League, the Europa League and the new third-tier Europa Conference League covering the 2021-22 to 2023-24 cycle.
SportBusiness understands that the Team Marketing agency will kick off the US sales process at the end of next week or the beginning of the following week.
The launch of the US rights sales will be swiftly followed by the start of the tender process in the UK. Broadcast rights in France for the trio of competitions will then hit the market in the middle of October, as reported earlier this month.
It is also understood that the relevant ISO documents are expected to be sent out to broadcasters in Germany, Austria and Switzerland at the end of October.
The English- and Spanish-language rights in the US market are currently held by Turner and Univision, respectively. Turner is paying around $60m (€54.8m) per season for the rights, with Univision committing $35m per season.
During the previous cycle (2015-16 to 2017-18), rights-holder Fox Sports sub-licensed selected live rights to ESPN. Having missed out on acquiring rights for the current cycle, the Disney-owned sports broadcaster has displayed a renewed appetite for European football rights, particularly given the launch of its ESPN+ over-the-top subscription offering.
The rights auction in the UK will serve as an acid test for the sports ambitions of BT, the telecoms group that ousted pay-TV broadcaster Sky to first land the Uefa club rights from 2015-16 onwards.
The appetite of BT, which is paying £394m (€443.2m/$485m) per season for the Champions League and Europa League rights, has been questioned after it failed to renew its Scottish Premiership and Scottish League Cup rights, and lost the NBA rights to Sky.
Elsewhere in Europe, the sales process in France is expected to launch on October 14, with a first-round bid deadline of around a month later, and will be followed later that month by the process in German-speaking countries.
Rights in Germany are shared by Sky Deutschland and subscription OTT platform DAZN. The coverage moved exclusively behind a paywall in 2018, after public broadcaster ZDF was unable to hold on to its rights package.
The agency intends to sell the broadcast rights to the Europa Conference League together with the Europa League rights including, for example, a package that allows broadcasters to obtain the first-pick match from either.