U.S. broadcast rights for the Champions League are changing hands.

Turner Sports has reportedly won the bidding for English-language rights, while Univision has won Spanish-language rights. Fox previously held rights in both languages. The news was first reported by World Soccer Talk and then confirmed by Sports Business Daily.

Per SBD, 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.

ESPN did not bid on the Champions League, according to SBD, though the streaming company BAMTech submitted a bid that would have placed major games on ESPN channels. BAMTech’s bid suggests a future in which tech giants, not networks, control rights to sporting events, as is increasingly the case with movies and television shows.

As for Spanish-language rights, Univision reportedly beat out only a token bid from NBC (which owns Telemundo). Fox and ESPN declined to bid, per SBD.

But the big news here is that Turner is widening its sports empire. The company already owns rights to the NBA, the MLB Playoffs and March Madness, and now it’s adding soccer to its portfolio.

[World Soccer Talk, Sports Business Daily]

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • Real Talk

    Please don’t hire American commentators, they don’t know anything about soccer at highest level

    • Michael Pagnotta

      Agreed. Turner should follow the ESPN/NBC model and import commentators. Americans who love The Beautiful Game don’t care about the accent of the commentators. They just want someone who knows what they’re talking about.

      Also, finding a way to rescue Fernando Fiore from FOX is a must.

      • Real Talk

        Give us the game but switch to English commentary

  • Tom Ado

    Turner Sports currently has no infrastructure for soccer, but they can probably dip into their CNN International talent pool for a helping hand or two.

    • Walt_Gekko

      Exactly. They have plenty of people who do sports on CNN International who could work on Turner’s soccer coverage.

  • Karl

    If I see Charles Barkley doing studio work for soccer I’m going to punch a baby.

  • Corey

    Good. FOX Sports has had horrible soccer coverage. Remember when they thought Gus Johnson doing games was a good idea?

  • Jean H Pierre

    I’ve always been a fan of Turner Sports. I feel that would treat soccer very well just like NBC has with the English Premier League.

  • Shawn Diiorio

    remember that fox still has the next 3 world cups.

    • Michael Pagnotta

      Yes, but any reduction of Warren Barton, Alexi Lalas, Eric Wynalda, Dr. Joe, and the rest of the stupid idiots FOX has for their coverage is welcome.

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  • I wish ESPN won the rights but at least we don’t have extra doses of Lalas.

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