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US Soccer broadcast rights head to Turner in eight-year deal worth up to ‘US$216m’

WarnerMedia-owned network replaces ESPN and Fox from 2023.

2 March 2022 Ed Dixon

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  • HBO Max to stream more than 20 men’s and women’s national team matches each year
  • TNT or TBS will televise approximately half of the games
  • US Soccer to reportedly receive between US$25m and US$27m per year

US Soccer has signed an eight-year media rights deal with WarnerMedia-owned cable broadcaster Turner Sports.

The agreement will make TNT, TBS and the HBO Max streaming service the exclusive English-language home in the US to more than 20 men’s and women’s national team matches each year.

HBO Max will stream all of the US national soccer team matches covered in the contract. TNT or TBS will televise approximately half of those games, which are all being simulcast on HBO Max. The remaining matches will be exclusive to the over-the-top (OTT) platform.

Turner’s deal includes Fifa World Cup qualifiers, friendlies, send-off matches and special events leading up to global tournaments, as well as the SheBelieves Cup, plus additional events involving the women’s and men’s national teams.

The tie-up adds to Turner Sports’ rights portfolio which already includes the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL), and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship.

The new pact will kick off in 2023 and also includes digital and highlight rights for sports-focused website Bleacher Report, which is owned by Turner, and its portfolio of brands. Additional content opportunities will also be available throughout WarnerMedia’s wider portfolio.

According to The Athletic, US Soccer will receive between US$25 million and US$27 million annually for the English-language rights, equating to between US$200 million and US$216 million over the length of partnership. The national governing previously earned a reported US$30 million for all of its rights, which are currently held by ESPN and Fox until the end of the year.

CBS Sports and Amazon, as well as Turner Sports, had all been linked with a deal with US Soccer for the next rights cycle.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Turner Sports at this amazing time for soccer in the United States,” said US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone.

“During our discussions it was clear how dedicated they are to growing soccer in the United States, especially their commitment to expand the women’s game. As we build towards 2026 and beyond, we have found a fantastic partner to spotlight the stories of our women’s and men’s national Teams.”

Lenny Daniels, president of Turner Sports, added: “This is a significant milestone for Turner Sports and WarnerMedia, further demonstrating our commitment to the distribution of premium live sports content on HBO Max, while simultaneously fuelling our leading entertainment networks, digital and social assets.

“We’re excited to spotlight one of the most popular women’s teams in the world, along with an ascending men’s national team, over the eight years of this agreement. This partnership offers us an opportunity to engage with their avid, young and diverse fan bases through all of our Turner Sports and Bleacher Report platforms.”

The deals comes after US Soccer took the decision to bundle together the English-language rights for its two senior national teams and announced it would bring its commercial rights operation in-house from the end of 2022. The latter meant ending its relationship with Soccer United Marketing (SUM) after nearly two decades. SUM had guaranteed US Soccer US$300 million over the life of the partnership.

The decision to pool together English-language rights also meant the national team package would not be bundled with the rights for Major League Soccer (MLS), the elite men’s domestic soccer competition.

As well as hoping to command higher fees by negotiating its own media deals, the move from US Soccer has been done mainly to resolve a perceived conflict of interest between the organisation and MLS. Two lawsuits brought against US Soccer said its relationship with SUM was anti-competitive.

A deal for US Soccer’s Spanish-language rights for the next cycle is yet to be announced. Univision has been the Spanish-language partner for US Soccer and MLS under the current agreement, while Telemundo holds the Spanish-language Fifa World Cup rights.

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