ESPN will maintain their presence in European soccer through at least the 2022 World Cup qualification process. A deal announced today confirms the details, as ESPN has negotiated for US English-language rights to all UEFA national team competitions.
According to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, the deal is worth $110 million, and beat out competing offers from beIN Sports, FOX, and NBC. Ourand also notes that Univision was awarded Spanish-language rights in the US.
This is welcome news, as ESPN’s international soccer coverage has been one of their strong suits, from the 2010 World Cup onward. Their coverage of Euro 2016 this summer was exemplary, and they’re setting a very high bar for FOX to clear at the 2018 World Cup. With FOX having the rights to upcoming World Cups, as well as the Champions League, and NBC holding EPL rights, ESPN moved to secure the remaining prestigious international competition. (Sorry, CONCACAF Gold Cup.)
ESPN highlighted the features of their coverage in a release announcing the deal, and it looks promising:
- ESPN and ESPN2: Will televise all 51 matches live (June-July 2020); Additional coverage will include pre-match, halftime and post-match programming, branded news and highlights shows on match days, unlimited re-air rights across all networks and media platforms, magazine programs, and more;
- ESPN3: Will offer exclusive content from live events on television and alternate streams to complement big game on linear television. All matches, not including the alternate streams, will be available for replay;
- ESPN Audio: English-language broadcast rights to 51 matches;
- WatchESPN App: Will stream all matches and ancillary programming;
- SportsCenter and ESPN FC: Extensive highlights rights on ESPN signature studio programs, including in-progress highlights;
- com (sic) and ESPN.com: Extensive coverage via dedicated UEFA EURO 2020 sections featuring video highlights, news clips, reports, columns, blogging, match previews, player profiles and real-time data. Additionally, the digital sites have the option to create digital-exclusive programming;
- ESPN Social: Rights clips and shareable content across ESPN FC handles on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, et al.
The deal also includes rights to the UEFA Nations League, a new international friendly competition (a sort of Champions League, but for national teams) which will begin in September 2018.