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Turner to launch OTT sports platform as Uefa deal confirmed

The Turner Sports division of US cable-television broadcaster Turner Broadcasting System has today (Thursday) announced it will launch a standalone sports streaming service after confirming it has secured exclusive English-language rights to club football competitions the Uefa Champions League and Europa League.

Turner’s rights deal with European football’s governing body Uefa was first reported in February, but the company today confirmed it had secured the contract across the three seasons from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

In association with the announcement, Turner said its new OTT sports platform will launch in 2018 with the Uefa rights package serving as a “core pillar” of the direct to consumer offering. 

Turner’s Champions League coverage will include four live television broadcasts each week throughout the group stage and two televised matches per week during the knockout phase. All other matches will be available live through the new OTT platform, including direct access to the premium streaming service via Bleacher Report.

All semifinal matches, along with the Champions League final, will be nationally televised on TBS or TNT. Europa League matches will be available through the OTT platform – including access via Bleacher Report – with the final to be televised on TBS or TNT.

Turner will also televise the Super Cup on TBS or TNT, Uefa’s annual game showcasing the winner from the previous year’s Champions League against the winner of that same year’s Europa League, beginning in 2018.

The new agreement includes opportunities to distribute Uefa content across a wide variety of Turner platforms. Turner said Bleacher Report, in particular, will also provide extensive, year-long Uefa clips and shoulder and ancillary programming across its full suite of products and its accounts on various social media platforms, including the BRFootball social presence on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Turner president David Levy said: “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.

“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.”

Media company 21st Century Fox is the current rights-holder for the Champions League in the US.