Turner announced it is launching a standalone sports streaming service, which will serve to house a number of UEFA matches Turner has secured with a new three-year distribution deal with the league.
The new deal gives Turner multiplatform rights agreement for the exclusive English-language presentation in the U.S. of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League beginning with the 2018-19 season. Those matches will be the “core pillar” of the direct-to-consumer sports streaming service Turner will launch in 2018.
“The launch of Turner’s new OTT sports platform and partnership with UEFA aligns with the company’s continued strategy to further expand the distribution ecosystem and our ongoing commitment to engage fans with premium content they crave across all platforms,” said David Levy, president at Turner, in a statement. “These highly-anticipated matches and supplemental original programming will be a key foundation for our latest direct to consumer business sports offering, as well as coveted content for Bleacher Report and our leading television networks. In addition to the new audiences we’ll attract through the streaming service, the partnership will leverage the tremendous reach we have with our television networks and Bleacher Report’s position as the leading digital destination for millennial fans.”
In all, Turner will show more than 340 UEFA matches per season across its television and digital platforms. In addition to the new streaming service, Turner will use Bleacher Report as a “portal to the OTT service and the live UEFA matches offered through the new platform.” Bleacher Report will also show year-long UEFA clips and original content. Per the deal, Turner will also show live matches across TBS, TNT and truTV.
“Through this new agreement, Turner Sports is further expanding our portfolio with championship-caliber content featuring two of the most popular sporting events in the world,” said Lenny Daniels, president at Turner Sports, in a statement. “We believe world football is one of the most impactful growth properties in the U.S. Our shared vision with UEFA has led to the perfect opportunity to leverage the reach of Turner as we establish deeper connections with fans, while simultaneously creating new business ventures for our company.”
Turner’s coverage will include four live telecasts each week throughout the Group Stage and two televised matches per week during the Knockout Phase. All other matches will be available live through Turner’s new OTT service. All semifinal matches, along with the UEFA Champions League final, will be nationally televised on TBS or TNT, and UEFA Europa League matches will be available through the OTT platform with the UEFA Europa League final to be televised on TBS or TNT, according to a news release.
Turner’s imminent sports streaming service could enter the market around the same time as OTT sports platforms from CBS and Disney’s ESPN. CBS last week announced it’s launching a sports streaming service in 2018 and Disney last week expanded its plans for its previously announced standalone ESPN streaming service.