Following a promising debut over the summer with its UEFA Champions League coverage, CBS Sports made an announcement on Tuesday that will surely upset plenty of American soccer fans.
During the group stage, which begins next week, CBS will air a whiparound show called The Golazo Show on CBS Sports Network, beginning at 3 PM ET (with a pre-match show starting at 2:30 PM). All of the live group stage matches will air (in English) on CBS All Access. Univision has the Spanish language rights, and will presumably air several matches each week on its stable of networks.
The Golazo Show will feature “every goal from every match,” along with “memorable moments and highlights along with expert analysis and commentary.” Talent for the whiparound show has not been announced.
CBS will also have pre and post match coverage on CBS Sports HQ (as well as all access), beginning at 11 AM ET.
Here’s the full schedule for the six group stage matchweeks, which will air on both Tuesday and Wednesday during those weeks.
- 11 AM: Pre-match coverage (CBS Sports HQ, CBS All Access)
- 12 PM: UEFA Champions League Today (CBS All Access)
- 12:55 PM: Actual live matches! (CBS All Access)
- 2:30 PM: The Golazo pre-match show (CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access)
- 2:45 PM: UEFA Champions League Today (CBS All Access)
- 3 PM: More actual live matches! (CBS All Access)
- 3 PM: The Golazo Show (CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access)
- 5 PM: UEFA Champions League Post-Match Show (CBS All Access)
- 6 PM: Post-match coverage (CBS Sports HQ, CBS All Access)
All in all, this seems like yet another step backwards for Champions League coverage in America. People complained when Fox aired five matches each day during the group stage because of network assignments. People complained when Turner aired two matches each day and paywalled the rest. People will now complain that CBS is paywalling everything. I’m not saying these complaints aren’t justified (they clearly are to various degrees), but at this point, you shouldn’t be surprised by the Champions League rightsholder in America eyeing up your wallet.
I will say that I think a whiparound show is a good idea, assuming it doesn’t linger too much on one match (NFL RedZone, I’m staring daggers as you), spreads the love, and shows action somewhat close to when it happened (as opposed to on a delay of several minutes). Is it a better idea than airing one live match in the most crowded window, as Turner did each and every matchweek? That’s yet to be determined.
When the CBS deal for Champions League rights was announced, All Access was expected to be a big part of the coverage plans. Sure enough, it will be the primary part of the coverage plans for the group stage. On the somewhat bright side, at least some fanbases can’t complain about the network being biased towards one club or another through their programming decisions. Also, this at least opens up a block of time on CBS Sports Network for the knockout stages, and hopefully all of those matches won’t be paywalled once 2021 rolls around.