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Champions League remains on CBS with ‘US$1.5bn’ US rights extension

Commercial network and Paramount+ to retain elite European club soccer tournament with six-year contract.

19 August 2022 Tom Bassam

Getty Images

  • Spanish language deal yet to be agreed
  • Paramount and Univision currently paying US$100m a year

Uefa has agreed a six-year broadcast partnership with Paramount for the US rights to European soccer’s elite Champions League club soccer tournament, the media giant has confirmed.

The deal will see the CBS commercial network and Paramount+ streaming platform retain the tournament for a further six years from the start of the 2024/25 season. Rights to the Uefa Europa League and Uefa Europa Conference League are also included with the top-tier competition.

According to The Athletic and Bloomberg, the US$1.5 billion overall fee breaks down to US$250 million per season, a dramatic increase on the US$100 million annual fee currently split by Paramount and Spanish language broadcaster TelevisaUnivision.

According to Bloomberg, Uefa had been seeking in the region of US$2 billion over six years for both language packages combined, but decided to only sell the English rights at this time because the direct-to-consumer (DTC) market for the Spanish audience is still ‘in its early days’.

TelevisaUnivision, the Champions League’s current Spanish language broadcast partner in the US, launched its new streaming service Vix+ in July, but Comcast-owned rival Telemundo is yet to enter the market.

If accurate, the significant increase in the rights fee marks a major success for the new US regional sales partnership between Uefa, the European Club Association (ECA) and Relevent Sports Group.

According to reports, Amazon was the other main contender for the rights but talks were also held with NBC, ESPN, Apple, Fox, Warner Bros Discovery and DAZN.

The inaugural season of the Champions League under the new US rights deal aligns with the first year of the tournament’s new format, featuring an expanded 36-team group phase with each side playing ten matches before the knockout rounds.

“Uefa has been a key driver for Paramount+ since our launch and we are thrilled to extend this successful partnership showcasing even more world-class soccer through the 2029/30 season, building on the incredible momentum we have created the past two years,” said Sean McManus, CBS Sports chairman. “Uefa is a perfect example of our differentiated strategy presenting marquee properties to drive and strengthen both our streaming and traditional linear businesses.

“This multiplatform approach allows us to leverage the power of Paramount Global to reach the broadest possible audience and elevate and grow the reach of Uefa in the United States. We look forward to continuing to provide soccer fans CBS Sports’ best-in-class coverage that our viewers expect.”

SportsPro says…

Paramount is hoping the additional live soccer content will help grow the competition’s popularity in the US. The most recent Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool scored 2.8 million viewers on CBS, the biggest-ever English-language audience for the competition and the most-streamed soccer match ever on Paramount+.

Banking on the popularity of soccer growing ahead of a home 2026 Fifa World, US-based agency Relevent snatched the Champions League’s US sales brief away from long-time Uefa partner Team Marketing by promising to secure US$250 million a year for the rights. With the Spanish-language sales to come, Relevent has already delivered on that pledge.

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