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Champions League on Turner and Univision Deportes

Summary

Turner Sports’ acquisition of the rights of broadcasting the UEFA Champions League was met with great expectations from many US-based soccer fans. For starters, TNT, TBS and TruTV were in a lot more interesting than FS1 and FS2. Secondly, many […]

Turner Sports’ acquisition of the rights of broadcasting the UEFA Champions League was met with great expectations from many US-based soccer fans. For starters, TNT, TBS and TruTV were in a lot more interesting than FS1 and FS2. Secondly, many hard-core English-dominant football fans hate FOX’s style of presentation.

However, Turner Sports — from the start — has disappointed fans. Despite acquiring the rights in early 2017 for a broadcast began in mid-2018, the broadcaster seemed unprepared, and made announcements in terms of talent and broadcasting plans at the very last possible minute. Turner limited terrestrial TV coverage to approximately four matches per week aired on TNT, with nothing on TBS or TruTV. Turner also put most games behind a paywall. This was done to promote Bleacher Report Live (B/R Live), Turner Sports newly established streaming service.

B/R Live proved, at first, to be a technical mistake. A clunky layout and a price charged higher than similar services from other networks, many English-language dominant fans changed to new Spanish language broadcaster Univision. The easy accessibility of Univision’s over-the-air broadcasts in large media markets as well as TUDN on cable attracted audience in that direction.

Turner’s studio hosted by Kate Abdo and former FOX’s top analyst Stuart Holden had been regularly attacked by critics. In the first year of TNT’s coverage, former NBA star Steve Nash, whose father and brother were professional soccer players, was included in the studio team. Still, that did not go over very well with many critics.

Despite these setbacks, due to the reach of TNT, a channel far more mainstream than any other sports offering from FOX and the increasing popularity of the sport in the US, Turner audienceship in English have been significantly higher than those of FOX.

Turner Sports wished to retain the rights beyond their three year period but were blindsided by CBS Sports’ sudden interest in football, and lost the rights for them during  2021-2024 cycle. Fortunately, Univision will retain the Spanish-language rights for this period.