The Champions League is the cream of the crop of European football (soccer), with the top teams from each country’s top league competing to see who the best team in Europe is. Turner Sports has won the English-language cable TV rights for the Champions League from Fox, who was the previous rights holder for both English and Spanish language TV rights. Univision will hold the Spanish language TV rights.
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Turner will pay $60 million a year for three years, beginning in fall 2018 and stretching through spring 2021.
Turner was somewhat of a surprise bidder, given that it has not aired any soccer coverage since the 1990 World Cup. The network will have to build an entire soccer operation essentially from scratch and will likely be looking outside the company for the new faces of its soccer coverage.
According to SBD, Fox’s bid for these rights was nowhere near what Turner offered. Fox has held Champions League rights since 2009 and has focused much attention on soccer coverage, with rights to the World Cup and MLS.
NBC, which owns rights to the English Premier League, reportedly submitted only a “token bid” for the Champions League.
Turner is becoming a major player in sports television once again, and expanding its audience to the younger crowd drawn more to soccer than the traditional American sports audience. Turner also holds rights to the NBA, MLB Playoffs, and March Madness.